Monday, January 29, 2007

The Times: DNA Exonerates (Except When It Doesn't)

A powerful editorial appears in today’s New York Times, analyzing how “modern DNA testing is steadily uncovering a dark history of justice denied.” Noting that nearly 200 wrongly convicted people have been exonerated by DNA evidence in the past 18 years—including eight in New York State in just the past 13 months—the Times says, correctly, it’s high time that all states create innocence commissions, “independent investigative bodies of judges, prosecutors, defense lawyers, police officers and forensic scientists who re-examine case facts after prisoners are exonerated using DNA evidence.”

The Times cites two examples of note:

  • A prisoner in Dallas spent 18 years in jail, convicted of rape “based solely on faulty testimony of a witness,” only to have a DNA test ultimately prove his innocence.
  • North Carolina’s innocence commission, led by the state’s chief justice, has already called for police investigators to vet witnesses more carefully.”

Upon reading these words, Times readers could be excused if they experience a bout of whiplash. After all, this is the same paper where columnists Selena Roberts and Harvey Araton published columns dripping with a presumption of guilt based solely on the version of events presented by one witness—just the type of person the editorial notes North Carolina’s innocence commission demands be vetted “more carefully.”

And this is the same paper that in August published a 6000-word front page article/op-ed by Duff Wilson, proclaiming that despite the DNA test results, “there is also a body of evidence to support [Nifong’s] decision to take the matter to a jury.” That article, moreover, went out of its way to exclude mention of the following clause from the March 23 order filed by Nifong’s office: “The DNA evidence requested will immediately rule out any innocent persons.”

Some might suggest that, given its performance on the lacrosse case, the Times hardly has the credibility to lecture anyone on the power of DNA evidence.

113 comments:

gs said...

No doubt that when the 3 Lax players are found factually innocent, and the "accuser" declared an obvious lier, they will print the story on page 41 in small print.

rod allison, detroit said...

"Some might suggest that, given its performance on the lacrosse case, the Times hardly has the credibility to lecture anyone on the power of DNA evidence."

Boy, have you got that right KC.

But I think the Times is preparing to launch a new theme/red herring in the Duke hoax; that is, why do people only care about the Duke 3 and not all the other wrongly accused (epecially minority) defendants who actually did time?

The answer is obvious; we never heard of the others because the Times and others chose not to cover these crimes when they occured.

But the Times loved a story about rich white boys who raped a black woman. So even though the boys were unknowns in a sport nobody cares about, they were made national news.

If the Times wants to know why people know more about the Duke case, they should look in the mirror.

Vivian Thomas said...

It's never too late to admit wrongdoing and try to turn towards the right path.

However, it would seem that many of the racial-politicos at the NYT could use just about any example to support any agenda they wish. This is easily done when all inconvenient facts are ignored, irrelevant facts are twisted toward false meaning and assumptions are made upon the types of bigotry which only they seem to deem acceptable.

Of course, it's possible that the people at the NYT are simply too obtuse to recognizes the connections from their coverage off the Duke case to this article.

duke09kparent said...

OT--Get on over to the Chronicle this morning. www.dukechronicle.com

A sharply critical opinion piece by Stephen Miller, and maybe a little dangerous for him since he accepts as fact the allegations of the Dowd suit, maybe leaving himself a little vulnerable to a libel suit by Curtis. I cheered inwardly, since I agreed with most of what he said about the bad actors in this case, but wow.

A nice article about the exhausting futility of keeping up with PC language.

An editorial asking for alums not to stop giving to Duke because of this scandal.

I predict some of our commenters will now place the Chronicle on the "enemies" side of the ledger because of this editorial. Sometimes I think Duke critics want there to be more damage to the university akin to some folk who want a rape (or at least some sort of white on black sexual assault) to have taken place.

KC Johnson said...

The Miller piece is very well done; I'm going to write about it tomorrow.

He's very careful in his language re Curtis, using the verb "seems." I agree, of course, with his interpretation of Curtis' actions.

Vivian Thomas said...

I love the word "seems". The sun seems to have come up this morning. Kim Curtis seems to be mentally deranged. The word, seems, seems to be the greatest word in the history of the world.

GPrestonian said...

Thanks, duke09parent & KC. Will look forward to your post tomorrow on the column.

The Miller column to which they refer:

A portrait of radicalism

How much discussion do you think Miller, or any Chronicle writer on the DukeLAX case, is having with attorneys before they publish their columns? Can't be too careful in this atmosphere...

Anonymous said...

You know, this is the point that is so obvious and central that anyone who ignores it is being intentionally dishonest. The original description of the "attack" involved massive transfer of dna, skin, semen, etc. Therefore, unless you had a theory as to why the defendants DNA was missing, it was logically impossible to believe the account was true. The only two possible explanations are 1) poor sampling and 2) cleaning. Once you know that the dna testing picked up old dna from other sexual experiences it is impossible, literally scientifically impossible, that the story is true. No cleaning could be so precise as to only remove the dna of the guilty parties and leave unrelated dna (THAT IS WHY MIKEY SUPPRESSED THE DNA). The Times knows this. Everybody knows this. That is why this is all a farce because unless you can explain the missing DNA (and nobody has even tried to do so except with bland and misleading generalities) the defendants are totally innocent.

Anonymous said...

duke09kparent at 10:17--
I agree with your conclusion that many Duke critics seem now to be promoting damage to the University for its own sake. One commenter on the Chronicle editorial made the legitimate point that she (I think it was a she) was choosing not to donate as a way to send a message to the university that she did not think they would listen to any other way; she added that she was acting for herself and others should make their own decisions. But other commenters there and here seem eager to destroy the university, along with everything good about it, in order to "remedy" the bad things. As a Duke parent myself ('04 and '08), I'm well aware that the university is far from perfect--but I'm also aware that my children have gotten an excellent education there, as well as many opportunities to broaden their horizons and develop their skills through travel programs, activities, public service, and social experiences. People can, and should, make their own decisions about whether to donate (we have maintained our own fairly modest donation level in recognition of the benefits our children have received from Duke). But I hope those decisions, and other decisions about what type of actions to take in response to real or perceived failures of the university and its administration, will be informed by an effort not to throw out the baby with the bath water.

bill anderson said...

I did some probability calculations on the Kim Curtis class. If there were 40 students in the class, and there were only two LAX players, then the probability of one player receiving an F is 1/40.

(If grades are distributed randomly -- a big "if" I realize, but still can be a valid assumption. That is because one can ask what is the probability that the LAX PLAYER will earn an "F"? In other words, if we assume that a class of 40 students approximates a normal distribution, then what would be the probability that it was a LAX player that would do work poor enough to get an "F"?)

The probability that BOTH LAX players would receive an F if 1/1,600 or 0.000625 out of 1. Now, if one LAX player has been failed, and we assume the normal distribution, then the probability that the OTHER LAX player also would receive an F is 1/1,560 or 6.41e-4. or 0.000641.

These are REALLY small numbers and they tell me that the failures were NOT a coicidence.

As for the Times editorial, the stinking hypocrisy of the Times once again is on view for everyone to see.

bill anderson said...

I need to make one thing very clear in my probability points. Grades themselves are not distributed but supposedly earned. Thus, the probability issue at hand is the distribution of the students themselves and their performance levels. We can assume that in a class of 40 students, we would have a normal distribution.

Now, given the fact that Dowd had never made a grade below B at Duke, what would be the probability that he would be the worst performing student in that class? I think we safely can say it would be near zero.

Anonymous said...

Stephen Miller has had it right from his very first post. I enjoy reading and hearing him discuss the case so logically. The FACTS speak for themselves..not to mention the lack of ANY evidence.
Amazing how an experienced staff, such as the NYT, has gotten it SO wrong.
Waiting for an apology...any day now...

MrRabbit said...

The New York Times....such an ignoble end for a humble pulpwood tree....such natural resources would be better utilized for the manufacture of toilet tissue and grocery store tabloids.

Anonymous said...

If 3 men had been in jail for 10 years, convicted of rape, and DNA evidence was subsequently "discovered" of a nature similar to that which exists here, the Times would be trumpeting in high dudgeon for the release of obviously innocent men.
What hypocrisy!

Anonymous said...

If it were these three defendants, the media would not up on their side, even with the DNA. Anytime the "rich and famous" are on trial, the media is loaded against them. Take Michael Skakel. I have no idea whether he is guilty or not, I just have not followed the case that closely. I do know that the media coverage was all about "getting a Kennedy" and the key ruling that sent him to jail for a long time was peculiar. Namely, that even though he could only be charged as a juvenile as the time of the crime, because he was now an adult he could be charged an adult. Turn that around and imagine that same reasonign applied to a fifteen year old minority defendant, arrested many years later, would we have editorials in favor or against that ruling.

Anonymous said...

The NYTimes is, apparently, incapable of dealing with any racial issues in a factual and truthful manner.

Their recent story on voter initiatives dismantling racial quotas in colleges was a case in point.

The Times tells us that in CA and other states since the 'quota' system was made illegal that black enrollment has declined. They don't give the percentages. The reason being that the percentage decline is infinitessimal, they also don't bother telling their readers that black graduation rates have increased.

They don't want their readers to know this because it does harm to the perverted idea that blacks and minorities cannot compete on their own merits and that when they are not given extra advantages they fail. How this view of blacks, which seems inherently racist, took hold of society is a question for the ages.

I suppose I should give them props for including the fact that the man bankrolling the roll back of racial quotas is, drumroll please, a black businessman.

Anonymous said...

Eliminating affirmative action in college admissions raises black graduation rates because it allows students to be matched with the appropriate schools where they can do well. Thus, AA is not in the best interest of most minority students. That fact (which has been demonstrated by research) is of little concern to the liberal advocates of preferential admissions.

Joe Bingham said...

KC,

Beef this into a full column, and mail it to the Washington Post. Or at least another NY paper. Sure to get published, and oughtta be.

Anonymous said...

10:43 - There are some whose frustration has reached the point that they write comments advocating massive damage to the university. In all likelihood many of these are people that were unlikely to donate anyway and possibly not even connected to the university.

I do believe, from discussions I have had offline, that there are many alumni that feel as I do that something must change in the way the university is administered. Over time, and especially when Keohane came in and was followed by Brodhead, the university has appeared to drift away from the university many of us attended. Committees and initiatives to change the thinking and behavior of students to be more politically correct seem to sprout up with more and more regularity, culminating with the explosion of last spring and the current round of non-apologies.

The main contact most of us have with the university if we do not live in NC is the alumni magazine and solicitations for funds. The main way we can communicate our displeasure back to the university is through our donations or lack thereof. Writing letters or emails to the university does not usually elicit a response, so we have to step it up and speak with our wallets.

Once again, as you state, this is not necessarily everyone's opinion and each should make their own opinion. This is why I find the Chronicle editorial so offensive. It presupposes and advocates what alumni should base their decisions on and, in fact, appears very childish. It sounds like a teenager trying to convince a parent to give them more money, just after they wrecked the family car doing doughnuts in a parking lot, by pointing out the fact that at least they made good grades in school and work at the soup kitchen once a month. It is an editorial written by people that do not seem to believe that actions have consequences.

Anonymous said...

Diversity has become a goal unto itself, irrespective of academic qualifications. A good part of the underlying reason why colleges exploded with dubious women/black studies programs and majors was to enable the less qualified minority students to major in something less intellectually rigorous. But even making everything 'subjective' graduation rates and academic performance still lag.

You would think that colleges might have learned the lesson from high schools, who for many years simply promoted and graduated students who couldn't read, write or add, and were not qualified for a job at McDonalds. All of this mostly done to god forbid prevent an academically challenged minority student from having to improve his or her academic performance. Public schools have finally realized that graduating children with the skills of 5th graders doesn't help them in the real world, since most employers outside of academia and the government still hire people based on their actual ability to perform the job in question.

This reality has yet to dawn on academia, indeed they just continue to dig in their heels finding ever more creative ways to mask racial quotas and graduate minority students with no life or job skills.

It seems self evident that the real solution to improving minority applications to colleges is to provide additional help at the high school level to enable them to improve their skills.

Anonymous said...

Linking back to the previous posting concerning Barber's Sunday message: 'Barber organized his talk around the “devastation of denial' when Pontius Pilate gave into the mob and denied clemency for Jesus."

His subtext is that today's blacks are analogous to Christ... and also that Christ was a victim.

I don't believe that most Christians would believe that blacks, or any other race, are more or less represented by Jesus in his time on earth.

Secondly, Christianity does not present Jesus in the context of victimology, but rather fulfilling a divine plan.

Whatever one's belief, Barber's message is a strange one to be presented in a 'mainstream' church.

MGM

M. Simon said...

I just posted on this very subject. I will add a link to this in the text.

Anti-Railroading Society

Anonymous said...

Anyone read the article about the media coverage of lacrosse scandal not dissuading applicants to apply to Duke?

I know that if I were a borderline applicant with cash, I'd apply to Duke, knowing standards have been dumbed down.

There's an article in the journal Blacks in Higher Education that points out that black Duke applicants are at a near-record number.

Anyone care to guess how much stupider the newly admitted students are, and how low Duk's national rank will fall?

Anonymous said...

10:15

A better example: imagine a 15 year old caught having sex with his 14 year old girlfriend. Ten years later he is charged with statutory rape because he is now an adult and the "victim" was only 14. Gotta love the impunity of DA's everywhere.

Anonymous said...

do you think the NC Innocence Commission will ever look at the Duke LAX case?

Anonymous said...

The criteria is only dumbed down for certain applicants, and since most top universities also relentlessly pursue diversity for it's own sake, it may be that everyone is dumbing down at the same rate....meaning eventually society itself will suffer because we stopped bothering to educate our children lest we harm their self esteem or that we admit some people are smarter than others as a matter of fact.

Anonymous said...

"Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) is a nucleic acid that contains the genetic instructions blah blah blah..."

Look, this science stuff is complicated. That is why we prosecutors and journalists need geniuses like Meehan to explain it to us after the sentencing. OK?

That's my story and I'm sticking to it!

Anonymous said...

Stephen Miller is wonderful.

He will most certainly be due for another appearance on "The O'Reilly Factor".

I predict a bright future for him in the national media if he chooses.

Debrah

nifong's hat trick said...

KC
It is wonderful that DNA sampling is available and extremely valuable in exonerating prisoners who have been falsely convicted in the past. In regard to the prisoner who spent 18 years in jail based on a faulty testimony,how long did it take for his release once there was DNA evidence to prove his innocence? Was he released immediately or did he have to wait as long as the 3 Duke Lax players have had to wait for charges to be dropped based on the DNA evidence that has proved their innocence? (9mos)

Anonymous said...

Stephen Miller - a portrait of radicalism.

What gumption. I hope he's safely got all his classes in the Economics department.

Anonymous said...

In the context of university-speak, derangement is a matter of context. In the context of Durham, neither Kim Curtis nor Crystal Gail Mangum are deranged. They are the norm for this town - skanks who reproduce without concern for the well being of their offspring, who have sex with dozens of partners without thought of the consequences, and sell themselves to the next bidder.

In Durham that is normal - the women are prostitutes, the men are customers, and if you throw in illegal drugs and de-policed zones, then you will have a picture of how day to day life proceeds here. The government checks come through, the drugs are in ample supply due to the assistance of the police, and the DA prosecutes non-crimes. All is as it should be. Doublespeak lives here. This is a socialist Utopia and Democrat stronghold.

Vivian Thomas said...

I remember hearing a statistic that 40% of all non-engineering students at Duke major in economics. Maybe there was anther level of exclusivity, but I can't be sure. At any rate, I'll bet that the number of economics majors jumps over the next few years.

Hey said...

Administrations are in thrall to the noisiest, least controllable group on campus. Now this is the Left - mainly the ethnic, gender, class, & sexuality "studies" cohort along with the typical radicals. From the 60s and 70s they demonstrated their will to do ANYTHING to get their way. Presidents want to avoid that sort of tension on campus and believe that going along is the better way, so that now a few raised voices and a small protest or two are all that it takes to cow the administration.

Look at the reaction to speeches by rightwing figures at Columbia. Whether it is the Minutemen or a Conservative Supreme Court Justice, there is violence, intimidation, and attempts to force them off campus. This happens across the continet, with the Leftists being able to act with impunity, while totally peaceful activities such as affirmative action bake sales see the heavy hand of the administration come down.

The only thing more powerful than leftist terrorists is the alumni donation. The alumni donation is what gives the leftists so much power, as it is the fear of what bad publicity will do to donations that makes administrations such sheep (well that and the fact that they generally agree with the terrorists). Attempting to dramatically reduce donations is the only way to get the boards of trustees and the administrations to pay attention. Otherwise we are just cranky alumni, and vile conservatives to boot, who must be placated. Remember that "vile conservative" is anyone to the right of Chomsky on most campuses, certainly at Duke and at Harvard.

The students don't matter, the almuni don't matter, the administration doesn't matter, all that matters is placating the noisiest, most violent, and least law abiding section of the faculty. Leftist students have no fear of criminal records, since it's part of "The Man's" system and they're just going to work at a co-op or live off of their hundred million dollar trust fund created by their horridly capitalistic and republican great-grandfather. Profs like Holloway use them as cannon fodder, and those of us who live in productive society have but one weapon: cut off the funds.

So I advocate no donations to Duke until 1 year after all of the suits are resolved. Send your money instead to the LAX defense fund, the Innocence Project, or FIRE (Foundation for Individual Rights in Education - thefire.org) and tell the administration what you are doing and why.

Truthfully, Duke, like most good schools, doesn't need more money. Stopping your donations for a period won't harm the quality of education or affect the kids at all. It will merely slow the rate of improvement of the school while sending a VERY loud message to the administration and the board. It will also send a loud message to every other school in the country. It is time that they learned to fear their alumni, their students, and their parents much, much more than they fear their faculty. Doing this will help not only students at Duke, but students across the country, by encouraging them to protect people like Summers, remove people like Brodhead, and protect their students at all costs. Nothing could be more valuable than that.

Anonymous said...

12:56pm---You hit the mark.
It's unbelievable the way the Duke lacrosse players have been portrayed. Nothing did they ever do that thousands of college students don't do everyday. Yet these minor incidences were blown up to justify the railroading.
Something else no one wants to talk about is the contrast between the white and the black communities in Durham and other places. And I'm not talking about affluence vs. lack of affluence. I'm talking about the way these people live.
You can't drive your car down the street near N.C. Central without people milling about the streets, walking out in the middle of traffic so that you are forced to stop for them. No rules at all.
Cars driven up onto lawns. People standing on street corners. Shabby houses with trash all about that no one bothers to pick up. You can't drive safely at night for fear of being carjacked, shot, knifed, raped, or robbed.
And the Durham Police Department is worried about some rowdy Duke athletes in a neighborhood where they were harassed and singled out by the very assholes who live in Trinity Park.
Durham deserves the reputation it has.

Anonymous said...

To Bill, Re: your probability analysis. I'm sure you must know that grades are simply not random, and probability statistics simply do not apply here. It may very well be that Curtis unfairly gave the two lax players F's. But it may also be that they weren't the top students in the class, and that they stopped coming to class, in spite of the fact that they knew attendance, and participation, were important parts of their grade. While it is understandable that Kyle might have to miss a class or two for legal meetings, it is very hard to believe that he had to miss every single class after the lacrosse incident occurred. In fact it seems more likely that he decided if the lax season was canceled, he wasn't going to do anything else.

Anonymous said...

Every alum has to make their own decision regarding their contributions to Duke. However, the Chronicle editorial does raise some valid points that should not be summarily dismissed just because we are mad at the administration. alumni contributions help a lot of students, including lacrosse players. They help fund academic and athletic scholarships, research projects, internships, etc. Withholding contributions hurts students. Those who wish to make a statement and accept the fact that the student they could be hurting might be another lacrosse player (or any other deserving student) certainly have that right. but I choose to continue to support the university, while at the same time voicing my opinion about the actions with which I disagree.

David Brennan said...

The above post (from 'Hey'), I think, suggests that we should become ideologically against Duke and academics in response to this problem.

But the problem is, ideology is what caused this nightmare in the first place.

So more ideology isn't the right response. The right response to this and the countless other unpublicized incidents of malice from police and prosecutors (basically, the entire government) isn't to tell our own lies, it's to be honest.

That's the job of the media (the word means, I believe "middle"). Just to present data, totally free of ideology.

But once you get locked into an ideology, usually you're going to start lying for it. Once you start saying, "The lacrosse players are all rapists", or "The Arabs are evil and only the government can save me", or "All the whiteys are vicious racist"....it's pretty hard to backtrack and say, "I'm sorry, I was wrong."

(I mean, that's just human nature.)

Anonymous said...

For the NYT, its all about political correctness.

If a person is in a favored PC class, then that person's exoneration via DNA evidence is to be applauded.

But if the person is in an unfavored PC class, then DNA evidence is to be disregarded, along with all other exculpatory evidence.

After all... when you're PC, its all about the "ends justifying the means".

Anonymous said...

I would think that any meeting with one's lawyer in regards to a felony rape case should constitute an excused absence. Imagine the opposite, an alleged rape victim being given an F in part because of absences related to her case.

The facts do not look good for anyone being able to substantiate that the two players deserved F's, in fact, Duke has admitted as much. They fudged the reasons, that's all. If Duke felt the F's would stand LEGAL scrutiny they wouldn't have changed the grades.

Anonymous said...

The ends justifying the means argument extends to both ends of the ideological spectrum. How else to interpret the wholesale reversal of decades of legal precedent on probable cause, due process and being safe from unreasonable search and seizure that we have seen in the 'war on terror'

Ideology, political correctness of all stripes and any and all actions that proceed with the view that the end justifies the means are ALL wrong.

bill anderson said...

1:43 PM

I have my doubts on your post. First, Kyle Dowd was graduating and I doubt he wanted to put that into jeopardy. Second, as I made clear in my second post, while grades are not randomly distributed, we can assume a normal distribution of the abilities and proclivities of students in a class of 40 students (Central Limit Theorem).

Kim Curtis also was predisposed to believing that Dowd and his teammate were covering up a rape and she was outspoken against the LAX team. Also, from what K.C. has said, these did not look like F papers. It will be interesting to compare the papers written by the LAX players to papers written by other students that received higher grades.

Obviously, one has to look at all the evidence before making a judgment, and I know I need to be careful. But probabilities ARE probabilities, and Curtis already had made it clear -- in print, mind you -- that she believed she had two students who were a couple of racist, sexist males who accommodated rapists. Thus, anything she does is going to be suspect.

Cedarford said...

Bill Anderson - Good article you wrote. While it brushes Godwin's Law with all the superfluous Big Lie stuff, you make a very important observation that in the child molestation trials.

That the prosecutors succeeded in stacking the deck with so many charges, so hammered the jury with claims that the 30 children or whatever never lie and have shown tremendous courage for such little tykes....that jurors rationally dismissed most evidence as preposterous by subliminally became convinced "Since there is just so much evidence...so many claims..., even if specific claims are not true...something must have happened! Justice means we must do something about it!".

We see the same tactic being used by radical feminists, black leaders, and postmoderns in the lacrosse case.

1. Specific claims may be preposterous. Counsel may rebut those specific things.
2. But women hardly ever lie about rape.
3. Therefore, something must have happened on March 13th.
4. That is why it must go to a jury. Because juries are the only body that reliably gets to the truth in America. Like the child molestation cases - justice means only a jury can get it right. Let the jury decide!!

I will add - sorry Bill! - that Bill's statistical methods in his 10:45 post are not sound. His assumption that only one in 40 Duke students per course, or one in 40 in any Curtis course get an "F" have no basis in fact. She could in fact have a failure rate of 1 in 8 for all I or Bill knows - or it could be that the "F"s she gave were only the 3rd or 4th she has given out in 12 years of teaching.

Whatever the rate, actual odds are dependent on the actual distribution along with the talent level of the student. Even if it actually was 1 in 40 based on 8500 student grades in Curtis's record and if all students had equal talent and equal odds of getting an "F" - in a particular class - (random distribution Bill mentioned) if one student got an "F", a second student getting an "F" would still have odds of 1 in 40. Not the 1/1600 odds Bill thinks.

Similarly, the next class Curtis has could have 60 students and no "F"s and be perfectly consonant with "the odds".

To properly calculate probabilities, you need more data than Bill is trying to use to create his example. With that data, you can get reasonable statistical analysis for Dowd's lawsuit. You have factors that have to be added in. The odds that not just the grades could happen, but the odds that an instructor could ignore 5 emails if attendence had such import to her grading. What was done in Curtis's past missed attendence events. Where 0 missed classes all given "A"s? 4 missed classes a "D"? The odds that a professor would make the same mathematical error on a calculation of such importance, a failing grade - twice. (As a TA at one time in my grad days, a failing grade had the Prof telling me to double check the grade factors, then the prof checked them himself, rechecked them, then set up a meeting with the student before the grade was posted to explore any mitigation and if there was none, to discuss the F's impact) Add also the odds of a straight A&B student failing a class in an academic area they had past success in. The odds that discrimination factors exist.

You can create a very careful, ironclad analysis showing either grade retaliation, the lack thereof, or honest result that the odds point to a grey area...But you need a lot more info than just knowing 2 players in one class were hit with what appears to be improper conduct...

Trust me, I think that the Curtis grades smell on an intuitive level. I just don't know the actual odds.

***********************

Anonymous said...

Bill Anderson---

You've been doing some very good work.

Thanks.

Debrah

Anonymous said...

Another editorial in today's Chronical (no by line)
snip... "The Financial Aid Initiative is well over halfway toward its $300 million goal. A new strategic plan, "Making a Difference," has been formulated and put into action. Brodhead has continued Duke's push to expand internationally, traveling to China, Singapore and the Middle East. Even if some alumni do not agree with every action Brodhead has taken in the wake of the lacrosse scandal, they should recognize that he has been an excellent representative of and advocate for this University in other, more substantive areas that pertain far more to the health of Duke and its students... snip ...That the number of donors has decreased but the amount donated has stayed constant also means that some alumni have increased their donations. In short, all is not cloudy on the giving horizon..." snip

What could be more substantive than students falsely accused, arrested, charged and left twisting in the wind for NEARLY A YEAR! This is a defining moment for Duke, for Durham, and for North Carolina. I suppose Dr B should visit the river DENIAL while he is over seas. I lived in the Triangle for many years and was an oncology patient at DUMC. Oh, yous here have said it so many times much better than I.
MTU'76

Anonymous said...

K.C.:

Another good post. Thanks.

One small point of information, however: Duff Wilson's piece should not be characterized as an "op-ed" piece. That term in newspapers refers to the page OPossite the EDitorial page. The op-ed page is almost always reserved for opinion pieces from guest writers, not staff-written pieces. I think you can just Wilson's "news story" was more "opinion" or possible "editorial" (staff-written opinion) than news.

bill anderson said...

Damn! A probability debate. And here on D-I-W!!!

Actually, the probability for anyone getting an F beyond Kyle would have been 1/39, not 1/40, since Kyle already had an F.

My point was that the two young men were LAX players, which put them into another classification. In other words, what was the probability that both LAX PLAYERS would receive Fs, given an assumption of a normal distribution of student abilities.

You are right in regards to grading policies and the like. And stats cannot explain a lot of things, which I have also stated.

My intuition says she failed them because of who they were, not because of their work. Furthermore, I suspect she would have been more sympathetic to someone who was more "politically correct" than Kyle Dowd and his teammate. Given her public statements on the case and her insistence that the LAX players were covering up a rape, she should have been extra careful in her grading.

Again, maybe the rest of the students were off-the-charts academic whiz kids and the LAX players had such miserable performances that should could not have helped but give them Fs. But, somehow me thinks that is not the case. Just a hunch.

Cedarford said...

Bill - Now, given the fact that Dowd had never made a grade below B at Duke, what would be the probability that he would be the worst performing student in that class? I think we safely can say it would be near zero.

No, again you are trying to assign odds to a situation where you don't know the facts. I have seen an honor roll student "blow it" with a final exam counting for half the grade getting a 25 or 35 because she had suffered a big emotional event. Another senior with a low "B" average I knew barely passed with a D (purely on instructor's mercy) because they completely misread the final assignment from some plausible distraction. It happens.

There are also cases where a high performing student in their chosen field of study is a complete fish out of water in a core curriculum component. One Asian math whiz took 3 years to get through English Comp.

That it happened to not just one, but two students who "knew the Duke system", were not unproven freshman, is unlikely and fishy as hell. But it happens enough you cannot say the odds are "near zero".

Anonymous said...

more on V. Peterson in the Herald Sun from 1/17:

http://www.heraldsun.com/durham/4-810195.cfm

bill anderson said...

I will concede that Cedarford is making good arguments, and I also will emphasize that statistics alone CANNOT explain the Dowd/Curtis situation. Both of us are suspicious of how Dowd and his teammate received Fs from a teacher who clearly was against them.

Since the story broke long after the drop date for courses (or, at least that is my assumption), there was not much either could do except to try to finish.

With Duke having Barber speaking on campus yesterday, it tells me that the university still is taking an in-your-face approach to the LAX student-athletes. It becomes harder and harder for me to respect Duke, and before the LAX incident, I had the utmost respect for the place.

Debrah, thanks for your kind words.

Anonymous said...

No, I don't think it's an in your face attitude, more like trying to play both sides of the issue.

Duke may have expected/hoped that Barber at this late date might have used the platform to focus on healing, discuss the need for race blind justice, etc. rather than try to recast the whole incident in yet another light with the blacks as victim.

A school like Duke, where the need for diversity, the white guilt complex and view of minorities as unable to compete on their own merits is so far entrenched that Barber's speech may well strike most professors at Duke as totally appropriate.

Jim O'Sullivan said...

I'm beginning to suspect the Times of liberal bias.

Anonymous said...

Another prime example of the NYT agenda driven "reporting" is seen in their 1/27 article on the Guilford College hate crime.

The 'beating' victims race/ethnic origin (Palestinian) is highlighted throughout the piece, as is the race of the attackers (football player).

This by the same news organization that repeatedly pointed out in every LAX article that the victim was black and the attackers were white.

It's no wonder now though... since the facts don't fit their preferred agenda template. In the Guilford case, of the six charged... three are African American.

MGM

duke09kparent said...

Since this thread is all over the place on topics, and since I started it with an OT post, I'll continue. Some professor (Bill?) had an opportunity to review Dowd's papers to see if there was any consistency on Curtis' grading and reported there was not. The work wasn't good but wasn't bad enough for an F. Of course, some qualified person would need to review the papers of all the students to see if Curtis' grades on the two in question were really punitive.

Has anyone seen answers filed to the Dowd suit? I wonder if the same law firm will represent Duke and Curtis or if Curtis' defense will be split off. There's an obvious potential conflict of interest but it could probably be waived by Curtis and Duke if they wished. Duke would have to give up the right to settle separately and the right to claim her actions were outside the scope of her employment. Not bloody well likely, though, not for a part time lecturer who (if the allegations are anywhere close to true) laid a whopper of a rotten egg of a lack of educational integrity.

Anonymous said...

The Times has been out of credibility for a while now. No surprise that it continues, with the Duke case.

It must be truly a "wonderland" place of liberal make-believe. So nice to have a place to insulate oneself from reality, I guess.

gs said...

About Dowd marks..

Dowd complained about his grade, to the teacher, and other school officals. You would think someone would check the grades and add them up. The fact that the grades average a D and not a F, combined with Dowd informing the prof of his absent ahead of time and she not sending him a warning about missing to many clases are a big problem for Duke.

facts:
-Grades averaged a D and not a F.
-Prof statements against the Lax players.
-No warnings or objections to the absences.

Duke is going to lose the lawsuit. Remember the lawyers for Dowd will be looking at the prof comments to show bias. Who knows what they can drag out of her during questioning?

Anonymous said...

KC reviewed Dowd's paper and said, while it wasn't great, it was not worse than his earlier paper, which received a C. But Curtis' rationale was that he did not support his assertions in the paper--we don't know what directions Curtis gave the class (e.g., "if you don't provide citations for your assertions you will get an F") and it's possible Dowd didn't know the directives for the paper either, since he didn't go to class. We have assumed the paper was graded only on the writing quality--that may be a very bad assumption.

We can't average Dowd's letter grades and assume we can figure out his final grade. Maybe his class participation was counted as a zero--not as an F--with the papers receiving grades in the 70s. We would need to know exactly how Curtis calculated her grades.

While a meeting with a lawyer is a good excuse, I don't really believe Kyle HAD to have 5 meetings with his lawyer, all during the same class time, requiring him to miss every one of Curtis' classes after the incident (and if he did, he should have rescheduled some of them.) We've all been students--is it too hard to recognize the kid didn't want to go to that class? Maybe for good reason, but it was a problem just the same. The lax players were mad--understandably so--and some of them might have tuned out as a result.

I am playing devil's advocate here..I DO think the grade probably was unfair..I just don't think we can say with certainty that Kyle was faultless here.

Anonymous said...

I could be wrong, but I predict that when this is over, the Times will in fact acknowledge and apologize for its own shoddy and biased coverage of this story.

They can take or leave any subject they want on their editorial page. And by picking this moment to take on the subject of DNA and innocence, and by going out of the way to observe that "North Carolina’s innocence commission, led by the state’s chief justice, has already called for police investigators to vet witnesses more carefully[,]" I draw the following inferences:

(1) The Times now understands that whatever did happen to the Duke accuser, she certainly wasn't "vetted" by the investigators. (What a colorful word, by the way -- it comes from "veterinarian," and you can fill in the rest.)

(2) By taking on the subject at all, and referring specifically to the importance of assessing witness credibility in North Carolina -- and so clearly inviting precisely the kind of commentary we're seeing here -- the Times is just as clearly distancing itself from the former coverage, for the reasons given in KC's posting.

(3) Not only is it a clear step away from the former coverage, it is also a signal that the Times is prepared, when the legal processes are completed, the innocent are exonerated and the guilty are disbarred, to take the next step and actually publish an explanation and apology for getting this story wrong.

There has been so much clamoring here for apologies and atonement from various people. Most of them are psychologicially or institutionally incapable of clearing the slate that way. But just as a responsible newspaper is supposed to be careful and correct the first time, it is supposed to correct its mistakes. Its own credibility depends on its ability and willingness to do so.

They went out even farther on a limb with Judith Miller and the non-existent WMDs, and they ultimately confessed their sins in print. And just like the Miller scandal, this is too big and too embarrassing for them to leave uncorrected.

I would not predict corrections or apologies from any of the preachers, academics or other potbangers who owe them here, but I believe that the Times is uniquely situated to understand its obligation to provide one, and that it will deliver.

Not tomorrow, of course, but one of these days...

Dave in CA

Anonymous said...

I doubt anybody takes al-NYT seriously. It has only one agenda: Bush Derangement Syndrome (BDS). It publishes outright lies (see recent abortion article which was declared fake even by NYT own public editor). It publishes whatever national secrets possible, if it hurt Bush.

I think they will print an article about Duke hoax in a few months once they have managed to connect it to Bush somehow (along the lines of BREAKING NEWS "Nifong's second cousing is a powerful REPUBLICAN in a neigborhood council in northern Alaska!!!" or possibly "Nifong lived in the same city than KARL ROVE in the 1980s!!").

This worked fine in the oil-for-food scandal. First, NYT denied its existince for months along with al-Kofi. Finally, soon after the first indictments NYT published front page article connecting oil-for-food to a TEXAS OILMAN (wink wink).

Well, NYT circulation has plummeted while NY Post has increased. Only hard-core marxists read NYT anymore. I can't blame leftists. They can enjoy the same fake facts and propaganda for free on TV. Just watch Katie Couric or Matt whatever.

David Brennan said...

You know, I think that the New York Times has proven itself and we're wasting time hoping for some dramatic mea culpa.

Waiting for them to be honest is like waiting for a canine to speak English or waiting for politicians to end the war.

Honesty's just not what they are.

Anonymous said...

Kyle was by far not the only lacrosse players to have 'professor' issues. Although the grades of these players was not affected, they went through some rough spots. Professors expressing their 'opinions'...w/o knowing ANYTHING more than the rest of us. Players were embarassed but held their heads high. They KNEW the truth was on their side. They knew the University was exaggerating the lax players 'behavior', but they held their heads high!!! Last spring was a nightmare for the players...and they had NO support from their professors or adminstration. The adminstration actually did more harm than good...sure speak to 'our' lwayers but do not tell you parents routine...Duke will pay...to ALL the players...

Joe T. said...

The NY Times still has a great crossword puzzle, but I wouldn't spend 2 cents on that demented airhead newspaper (which MUST be staffed with a bunch of insulated delusionals). I wouldn't even trust their Metropolitan Opera reviews. (And I'll make a copy of the crossword puzzle at the library).

Blog Hooligan said...


The 'beating' victims race/ethnic origin (Palestinian) is highlighted throughout the piece, as is the race of the attackers (football player).


I am not sure that "football player" is a race, although some have tried to claim that they are a race apart.

Anonymous said...

I may be wrong, but i am always amazed at the suggestions that all the lax players will sue and collect from Duke. I am no lawyer, but from what I understand, to win a lawsuit you have to show that someone knowingly wronged you, and that their actions caused you measurable damage. Certainly the three indicted players have a very strong case against someone (I would argue Nifong and the city of Durham) but I don't see the case the other players have against Duke. Don't say it's cause the season was canceled--I don't see monetary damages there (after all, they are supposedly at school to get an education....) And even with Reade, Collin and Dave, I don't see how they could prove, in a court of law, that Duke bears any responsibility for what happened. People have their opinions, but there is no way to prove that Nifong would have acted differently if Duke had taken a stronger stand in supporting the players.

Anonymous said...

3:53 PM
Dave in CA
"They went out even farther on a limb with Judith Miller and the non-existent WMDs, and they ultimately confessed their sins in print. And just like the Miller scandal, this is too big and too embarrassing for them to leave uncorrected."

Dave - don't you see that they go out of their what to recant, only when it fits their political agenda. In this case, this supported their hostile position against the Bush administration and the war.

Other errors, as egregious, are addressed with simple one-liners in the bowels of the paper... or simply ignored.

MGM

Anonymous said...

4:15 I am not a lawyer either, but if their attorneys can't prove the harm done to them and Duke's part in it, we need new lawyers.

Anonymous said...

I would sure like to know if the NYT stance on this issue has hurt their circulation. I will not buy it again or read it on-line.

M. Simon said...

1:49PM,

I agree. Don't withhold donations.

Send them to a better University.

M. Simon said...

David Brennan 1:52PM,

The biggest cause of corruption of the police and prosecutors is drug prohibition. Not to mention neighborhoos turned into war zones.

The same thing happened during alcohol prohibition.

It is as if Americans can't learn from their own history.

M. Simon said...

2:15 PM


The ends justifying the means argument extends to both ends of the ideological spectrum. How else to interpret the wholesale reversal of decades of legal precedent on probable cause, due process and being safe from unreasonable search and seizure that we have seen in the 'war on terror'

Ideology, political correctness of all stripes and any and all actions that proceed with the view that the end justifies the means are ALL wrong.


Uh, the protype for doing all that is/was the drug war.

Since there were no significant complaints on that one the precidents have already been set.

Too late now.

rod allison detroit said...

The Times problems started a while ago, under Howell Raine's Editorship.

The first major blow was their obvious attempt to create, not report about, a controversy over Augusta National's male-only member policy. They mentioned Tiger Woods in every article, thinking they could recruit him into the cause, because he's black, and white liberals think blacks are supposed to think, act, and vote the way white liberals want them to.

Then there was the Jayson Blair fiasco which cost Raines his job.

But they aren't any better. Last summer, the Duke case storyline evolved into something contrary to their world view; the justice system worked against priviliged whites because of their race, and a white liberal politician was cynically using black voters.

They couldn't have this. Thus, they tried to change public opinion with their now scandalous front page article/op-ed/Nifong ambulance run last August.

They will always have their partisan readers who agree with their political agenda, but the day to day readers like myself are disgusted with what was once a great paper.

Anonymous said...

To 1:43
You imply that Kyle Dowd simply decided to blow off his classes after lacrosse season. Nothing could be further from the truth. The3 senior players in particular, but all of the players knew even the, as did their parents that this was a game of Russian roulette and that any of them could be picked. In addition, Kim Curtis never, not once indicated to any member of that class that attendance or participation had anything whatsoever to do with the grade. Indded the syllabus clearly indicates the grade was dependent solely on the papers. KC and Bill have already said this, but what she did was evil, unmitigated evil at work.
Duke Lacrosse Parent

Anonymous said...

I could be wrong, but I predict that when this is over, the Times will in fact acknowledge and apologize for its own shoddy and biased coverage of this story.

Yes, you are wrong. al-NYT never ever apologises or admits its wrongdoings. Even the recent NYT abortion article (which was based on distorted and fake facts, and the NYT investigation was funded by left-wing pro-abortion activist group) NYT never admitted anything. The NYT public editor asked NYT editors to admit and correct it but they refused. Basically, NYT editors were behaving like Nifong/Gang88: No matter what evidence is presented they have made their mind and they are not going to change it.

Anonymous said...

to 143 from a non-lawyer/retired professor: Is there a copy of the syllabus posted anywhere? I don't remember it in the document by Dowd's attorneys. In my past life as a professor, I always viewed the syllabus as being contractual (and so did the academic institutions in the event of grade disputes of this sort).

Anonymous said...

to 453 from 502: I meant to address the question to you as well about is there a copy of the syllabus available?

Joe Bingham said...

Bill Anderson,

Does it seem to you like people are saying something along the lines of

"A probability analysis based on the factors you know can't prove discrimination, because you don't know what other factors might be involved, therefore your stats are incorrect,"

when in fact your stats are pretty much correct according to what you know, and you've mentioned several times that other factors could be involved and these are just back-of-envelope calculations based on what you DO know?

If that makes sense.

Of course there could be other factors involved, and of course there could be a fluke case where a kid misreads an assignment to change a grade pattern... isn't that implied by the fact that there's a probability rather than a certainty in the first place? Yeesh.

WJD said...

The problem I have had with this case from the beginning was Nifong piling on. He dropped the Rape charges, because of the NC state law, with strick guidelines for the definition of rape. He kept the Sexual Assault charge and the Kidnapping charge. Plus neither charge requires DNA to prove the case. He wants a jury to hear the case in hopes that the jury will hand down a split decision and he would be off the hook. When you give juries choices like this, they will usually render a split decision. The kept her occupied for 3 minutes, but didn't sexually assault her, so he gets a kidnapping. That would be like me hold the door on my bathroom closed with my wife in it for 3 minutes and I get charged with kidnapping. I think that NC has to review all of it's laws, especially loose one's like kidnapping and raise the bar.

Chicago said...

The Press begins to congratulate itself over how well it has covered the case...

Beard, Raleigh-based AP sports writer, wins N.C. staffer of year

Anonymous said...

Upon reading these words, Times readers could be excused if they experience a bout of whiplash.

Look, the New York Times drives me as nuts as it does anybody. But only someone thoroughly unacquainted with newspapers would experience some metaphorical whiplash over this.

So the editorial takes a different stance than a couple of previous op-eds? Great! I'd be much more concerned about an opinion page that never published opposing viewpoints.

So the editorial has a different approach than a particular front-page news piece? Great! I'd be much more concerned about evidence that the news and opinion pages had absolutely anything to do with each other.

Is there liberal bias in the news pages of the New York Times? Positively no question. But the idea that a paper's opinion/editorial staff has anything to do with the paper's news coverage is ludicrous. The idea that they should be connected -- which is the notion implicit in your post -- is even worse.

Anonymous said...

NYT employs only hard-core leftists. Some have even "graduated" to NYT from hard-core marxists blogs. talk about culture of corruption..

btw, check "NYT abortion lies" in google..Even with clear evidence and their own public editor stating that it was false story, NYT op-eds and news pages refused to print the correction and apology.

Anonymous said...

re NY Times

The NY Times isn't as liberal as you might think. My Times sources tell me that Duff Wilson is an embarrassment at NYT, and it wants to get rid of him.

RP

Anonymous said...


The NY Times isn't as liberal as you might think. My Times sources tell me that Duff Wilson is an embarrassment at NYT, and it wants to get rid of him.


Hahaha. If they fired him would he charge them with racial discrimination?

M. Simon said...

Dave in CA 3:53PM,

Actually the Times has never come to grips with the WMD issue.

Search -

A. Q. Kahn Iraq Libya

To find out why. Short version: Saddam had outsourced his nuke program to Libya. That program was busted up by the war.

Does the Times trumpet that success? Or has it buried it?

I wouldn't get your hopes up.

nofreelunch said...

10:48 --

Not so amazing. Agenda tops experience every day in every way at the New York Times. Revised motto: all the news that fits (our agenda), we print.

Anonymous said...

Well, they should have gotten rid of him before someone in higher authority at the NYT assigned him to this story. Duff does not work in a vacumn - he wrote what the Times wanted him to write. I'm not surprised they want to lay it off on him though.

Anonymous said...

Who is Aaron Beard - anyone read a story about duke by him> Only in North Carolina.

Anonymous said...

11:08 AM --

If 3 BLACK men had been in jail for 10 years, convicted of rape, and DNA evidence was subsequently "discovered" of a nature similar to that which exists here, the Times would be trumpeting in high dudgeon for the release of obviously innocent men.

There, fixed it for ya.

Anonymous said...

Here is a funny from Ann Coulter. "The accuser told so many different stories, the Times had to offer her Jayson Blair's old job"

Anonymous said...

re Wilson charging Times with racial discrimination

Does anyone know for a FACT that Wison is black? Please enlighten me.

RP

Anonymous said...

Cedarford: No, again you are trying to assign odds to a situation where you don't know the facts.

And so it is with ANY use of statistical history as a probability statement. If we really knew all the fact s the probability would be 0 or 1. Statistical probabilities are a form of reasoning by imperfect analogy. Since no analogy is ever perfect, that is no crime against reason.

Anyway, my calculation using the historical statistics from that course alone ( the only data avaialble to us at this time) are that the odds of any "random" student getting an F is 1 in 20. So, the odds of two lacrosse players disparaged outside the classroom by the same professor getting an F is 1 in 400. If you want to bring up the facts that the students were a) distracted by the allegations and b) suddenly had some extra time to study then yeah the analogy isn't perfect. Still, good enough for government work. Speculating about other factors that may be at work are irrelevant because they also apply to the other students.

Anonymous said...

4:40 Right on. I do believe why the "war on drugs" continues is because most of Congress is being paid off by the drug cartels. Let the druggies blow their noses off if they want. Mandatory drug testing would help - hit them in their pocketbooks.

Anonymous said...

Duff's bio.

M. Simon said...

New info on Guilford College

A sixth player has been charged. Not by law enforcement either.

M. Simon said...

7:24PM,

Read this to find out why people take drugs:

Heroin

Addiction Is A Genetic Disease

Anonymous said...

Anon 7:55 -

So, where'd Duff go wrong????

dl

Anonymous said...

RIP Barboro!

Anonymous said...

2nd RIP Barbaro!

Anonymous said...

Howell Raines' deputy was Gerald Boyd, who recently passed away.

Anonymous said...

RIP. Poor horse. In other news, Washington DC, Saturday, police were ordered to move their lines back and allow 300 protesters to spray paint slogans on the steps of the Capital. Savages.
MTU'76

Anonymous said...

6:44 PM
RP - "The NY Times isn't as liberal as you might think."

RP - are you off your meds again or has your NYT subscription just run out.

Yea, the Old Gray Lady is a bastion of conservative spew.

MGM

Anonymous said...

In humanities classes at Duke, a B- is usually the lowest grade given. "Cs" are rare, "Ds" essentially extinct. The "Fs" given by Curtis had nothing to do with class performance.

Anti-Leftist Liberal

Anonymous said...

9:48 The Good A-L-L Professor

What you say makes sense. I attended a selective college (not Duke).

In humanities, very few people got any grades lower than a B-. C+s and Cs were for people who for some reason, blew off the course. Ds?


The only people who got Fs were people who failed to submit the required papers or take the required exams.

Anonymous said...

What makes for interesting copy?

a) Suspect cleared by DNA, no charges filed.

b) Innocent man released after 50 years in prison: DNA exhonerates

MSM is entertainment. This kind of story separates the goats from the sheep.

Anonymous said...

RIP Barbaro - What a guy! A shinning example of courage to us all. Love you babe.

Anonymous said...

10:19 PM
"MSM is entertainment. This kind of story separates the goats from the sheep."

Entertainment with a lot of agenda driven editorial control.

Everything from selecting what to publish, what to bury, what to ignore, and how to frame with slanted and misleading headlines.

Anonymous said...

DNA exonerates you unless you are a white male from a reasonably wealthy background and your accuser is a minority who is not well-off.

If you are a well-off, white male you can subtract further points if you are an athlete and even more points if you play an allegedly "preppy" sport at a prestigious university.

If you fit this description, DNA will NOT exonerate you. In fact, all your parents hard work to provide a nice life for you will be used against you and your family. The press will breathlessly report the assessed value of your family home and the tuition of your high school. Your parents will be referred to as a "high-powered" Wall Street executive or "high-powered" Washington lawyer etc. The media will then report that all your "high-powered" parents have hired "high-powered" defense attorneys to take your case.

Basically, you will be denounced as "privileged" and therefore obviously guilty no matter what DNA results and science establish. Science has now officially been politicized. Political correctness ruins everything it touches. Can science survive?

Anonymous said...

Whoever is attempting to insult me by alluding to "meds" is quite clever.

I'm stung to the quick.

RP

Cedarford said...

Anonymous 7:24PM

And so it is with ANY use of statistical history as a probability statement. If we really knew all the fact s the probability would be 0 or 1. Statistical probabilities are a form of reasoning by imperfect analogy. Since no analogy is ever perfect, that is no crime against reason.

A form of reasoning only when you have adequate criterion set to explain the measurable phenomenon and only when you have a adequate sample size to explain deviance from the norm by use of stats.

And, au contraire, to argue otherwise IS to commit a crime against reason.

Anyway, my calculation using the historical statistics from that course alone ( the only data avaialble to us at this time) are that the odds of any "random" student getting an F is 1 in 20. So, the odds of two lacrosse players disparaged outside the classroom by the same professor getting an F is 1 in 400.

No, you are jumping to explain statistical odds in the absence of adequate sample size, amplifying factors, and without an understanding of the measurable phenomenon (getting F's) - and you are only applying it to one class. Because a hypothetical 1 in 20 phenomenon (established by looking at 68 or more classes or what inquiry shows is minimum sample population) is not uniformly distributed, F's given in a run of 10 identical classes with 20 students could be 0,0,2,0,2,0,3,1,1,1. And for one class, if another student gets an F, a subsequent student's odds are still 1 in 20.

If you want to bring up the facts that the students were a) distracted by the allegations and b) suddenly had some extra time to study then yeah the analogy isn't perfect. Still, good enough for government work. Speculating about other factors that may be at work are irrelevant.

No, not good enough for government work and certainly not for a lawsuit. And other factors are hardly irrelevant - they are mandatory for a credible analysis.

As things stand, the Dowd grade smells and will likely smell worse and be documented in the degree to which it stinks when other factors are weighed in if Duke is stupid enough to open it's grading records to lawyers discovery.

Part of that is hinted at by Anti-Leftist Liberal. If analysis of several hundred classes in the Duke humanities shows F's are given only for gross, gross failure to master the material you add that to analysis.

If Curtis's own grading behavior over her 12 years at Duke shows she did not give F's but for students who failed to hand in material and Never gave F's for students with same or worse attendence issues - that adds more data. If you add in factors of a cum laude senior student like Dowd well-aware of the Duke system somehow "failing" to avoid blowing a class in his last semester or not understanding he was in real trouble - that adds to analysis of difficulty giving Prof Curtis credulity for her conduct.

If we find there is a general convention or protocol for actions taken by Duke profs before and after giving a failing grade - especially where student behavior outside actual mastery of the material factors in not followed by Curtis..that too could add to the analysis challenging Curtis's credulity on her grading being legitimate and not retaliatory.

Then and only then if the analysis showed Curtis did something extraordinarily out of the ordinary ---and then add the odds in of a math error when combining only 4 factors for failing 2 students (and knew that an "F" triggers separate paperwork like a report to the Dean) --would you then be in a position to say it was extraordinary enough that malefeasance was involved. And then and only then would you be able to discuss factors like her politics and a previous ROTC student getting hammered and the 2 who failed being lacrosse players as explainations of her malfeasance.

You see, all the data and all the analysis of background and specifics of the teacher and student come 1st. Only with all that complete do you get into explaination of an outcome she cannot justify, behavior she cannot defend over several actions.

Then you can start talking damages Duke must pay for the harm it's employee caused a customer. Which would go up if a review of her emails shows complicity of others, or knowledge of others that Curtis and other employees were targeting lacrosse players. Which include acts of hostile behavior, role in creating or distributing the Vigilante Poster, etc.

Anonymous said...

Thousands have written and emailed Brodheas, Steel and the board to secure committments for the school to accept responsibility for their actions and sanaction the gang of 88. Nothing can get there people to move or even reply. Steel's "We had to stop the pictures " is the most classic.It actually says it all. Nothing changes - not even a "thanks for calling" dismissal.,

Anonymous said...

I think it says something that James Coleman serves as a faculty advisor on the "North Carolina Center on Actual Innocence." I think while we note all the hypocrites associated with this case; we can also remember not everyone was. As they state on their web site, "While people of colr and those with few financial resources are more likely to be wrongfully convicted, no one is exempt.

M. Simon said...

C4 12:22AM,

A sample size of 30 is considered adequate. It just raises the MOE at a given confidence level.

What statistics can tell you is if a result is unusual given a normal (or known) distribution.

Now maybe the boys did earn Fs. OTOH what are the odds of two LAX players (known to be academically good to outstanding, because of who they are and team rqmts) both failing?

Statistics doesn't tell you if it is right or wrong. What it does tell you is that the case deserves closer scrutiny.

Or as Demming would say: time to look for special causes.

Well the real world has been kind. We do suspect a special cause.

Bruce Hayden said...

Note, I am not a Duke alumn. However...

I agree with the poster above, the best way to wake up the school is to shut down donations. This is a metric that a Board of Trustees can and do look at. They really don't see the out of control faculty, etc. They see just a couple of important metrics, such as: school rank; number and quality of applications; and donations. Esp. donations. And because they hire and fire college presidents, the later listen to them.

Secondly, the most likely legal causes of action against the school would be some sort of negligence. For a negligence claim, you need: duty; breach; proximate cause; and damages.

The duty is that owed a college to its students, esp. after taking their money. I would think that innocent until proven guilty, etc. would qualify as part of duty. Also that police charges or acccusations would not affect grades and that the school would guarantee a safe environment for those students involved, esp. until proven guilty.

If those are some of the duties owed a school to its students by taking their money, etc., then the breach is obvious. Throwing kids out of school merely for being charged with such crimes would be breach. As would allowing profs to flunk LAX students. Indeed, the actions of the Group of 88 faculty, being employees of the school, could be attributed to the school too. So, after taking their money, the school provided an extremely hostile environment for the LAX students.

Proximate Cause is a fancy way of saying that the breach was a/the major factor causing the damages.

And damages would include the mental anguish, as well as all those attorneys' fees. And because it was esp. egregious, I would expect that some sort of punitive damages might also be available.

Anonymous said...

I have no brief either way on the Durham case and it appears Nifong committed legal malpractice if not worse.
However, too often the exculpatory value of DNA testing gets transmogrified into "proving innocence." It only "proves" that your DNA was not found there. It does not, in fact, "prove" you are innocent of the crime, or even "prove" you didn't leave DNA at the scene. It merely proves there is no DNA evidence against you.
In rape cases, of course, it's not necessary to leave behind DNA to accomplish rape or sexual assault or gross sexual imposition or whatever definition of rape is used. Even if DNA is left behind by a suspect, it's not always detected or gathered by investigators.
Fingerprints are a similar form of physical evidence: their absence does not "prove" that a certain suspect is innocent of the crime. It simply means there is no fingerprint evidence against said suspect. It doesn't even "prove" the suspect did not leave fingerprints at the scene. It just "proves" that there is no fingerprint evidence against the suspect. It's a form of negative evidence toward innocence, not positive evidence or proof of innocence.
Innocence presumed is not innocence proven. Some types of evidence can prove innocence; an alibi that holds up can prove a suspect could not have committed the crime he's charged with.
There's no doubt that the lack of DNA evidence from a suspect at a crime scene tends to argue for the innocence of the suspect. But such lack cannot, by definition, prove his innocence.
While it is unlikely that any of the Duke students could have raped the dancer yet have none of their DNA show up on her panties, it sure as heck is possible.
I have little doubt in the Duke case the prosecution has little to go on anymore.
Proving innocence is a pretty tall order, after all.
O.J., for example, enjoyed the presumption of innocence, and was declared innocent - well, not guilty - of killing his ex-wife and her friend. But many still doubt that his innocence was proven.

Anonymous said...

I have no brief either way on the Durham case and it appears Nifong committed legal malpractice if not worse.
However, too often the exculpatory value of DNA evidence - usually, the lack of DNA - gets transmogrified into "proving innocence." It only "proves" that your DNA was not found there. It does not, in fact, "prove" you are innocent of the crime, or even "prove" you didn't leave DNA at the scene. It merely proves there is no DNA evidence against you.
Of course, it's not necessary to leave behind DNA to accomplish rape or sexual assault or gross sexual imposition or whatever definition of sexual assault is used. Even if DNA is left behind, it's not always detected or gathered by investigators.
Fingerprints are a similar form of physical evidence: their absence does not "prove" that a certain suspect is innocent of the crime. It simply means there is no fingerprint evidence against him. It doesn't even "prove" the suspect did not leave fingerprints at the scene.
It's a form of negative evidence speaking for innocence, not positive evidence or proof of innocence.
Some types of evidence can prove innocence; an alibi that holds up can prove a suspect could not have committed the crime he's charged with.
The lack of DNA evidence from a suspect at a crime scene argues for his innocence but it cannot, by definition, prove it.
While it is unlikely that any of the Duke students could have raped the dancer yet have none of their DNA show up on her panties, it sure as heck is possible.
I have little doubt in the Duke case the prosecution has little to go on anymore.
But innocence presumed is different than innocence proven.