Turn Left at Ethicsville and Go Directly to Immoraland, a New Theme Park

September 14, 2023

Vea4_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb_tNote: This essay is the work of a real and still-alive dinobaby. No smart software involved, just a dumb humanoid.

Stanford University lost a true icon of scholarship. Why is this individual leaving the august institution, a hot spot of modern ethical and moral discourse. Yeah, the leader apparently confused real and verifiable data with less real and tough-to-verify data. Across the country, an ethics professor no less is on leave or parked in an academic rest area over a similar allegation. I will not dwell on the outstanding concept of just using synthetic data to inform decision models, a practice once held in esteem at the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Lab.

9 9 audience reacts in horror

“Gasp,” one PhD utters. An audience of scholars reveals shock and maybe horror when a colleague explains that making up, recycling, or discarding data at odds with the “real” data is perfectly reasonable. The brass ring of tenure and maybe a prestigious award for research justify a more hippy dippy approach to accuracy. And what about grants? Absolutely. Money allows top-quality research to be done by graduate assistants. Everyone needs someone to blame. MidJourney, keep on slidin’ down that gradient descent, please.

Scientist Shocks Peers by Tailoring Climate Study” provides more color for these no-ethics actions by leaders of impressionable youth. I noted this passage:

While supporters applauded Patrick T. Brown for flagging what he called a one-sided climate “narrative” in academic publishing, his move surprised at least one of his co-authors—and angered the editors of leading journal Nature. “I left out the full truth to get my climate change paper published,” read the headline to an article signed by Brown…

Ah, the greater good logic.

The write up continued:

A number of tweets applauded Brown for his “bravery”, “openness” and “transparency”. Others said his move raised ethical questions.

The write up raised just one question I would like answered: “Where has education gone?” Answer: Immoraland, a theme park with installations at Stanford and Harvard with more planned.

Stephen E Arnold, September 14, 2023


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