Yesterday's story on the "Cry Wolf" project
has exposed a dangerous pretense that has been prevalent, yet well disguised, for some time in our institutions of higher learning. It's an important post. A small committee of professors and academic professionals, normally held in high regard, have blatantly betrayed the trust of the public and quite possibly smeared the reputations of all colleges and universities nationwide. By soliciting "paid activists" to create research papers that are intentionally designed to silence opposing viewpoints, they have undermined the political system and manipulated the governmental policy making process. And in the meantime, they've also implicated all of academia in the manufacturing of their propaganda.
It is an abuse of their power, and an abuse of the institutions they represent. It is appalling and repellent. Perhaps even against their employers' rules or the industry's ethical code. Consider it an ominous warning -- this will have a dire impact on our political and economic system in the future, if we remain apathetic in the face of such a rhetorical and intellectual assault.
In fact, both the rhetoric and the intentions demonstrated in Peter Dreier's email are a classic example of much of what is wrong with today's educational institutions: hypocrisy, bias, recklessness, and a blatant disregard for differing beliefs and viewpoints.
As Americans, we place an enormous amount of pride in the quality of our nation's system of higher education. In our country, colleges and universities have long been the bastions of research, the sources to which we turn for information that is expertly developed; for data that is honestly mined, analyzed, reviewed and responsibly published by noted researchers so that individuals, business people and policy makers can make well-informed decisions.
By way of discreetly distributing this now-public Request for Proposals, Peter Dreier, the Cry Wolf Project coordinators, and members of the project’s Advisory Board, may not only have called their own credibility into question, but they may have actually risked discrediting the entire educational sector as a respectable source for research. Some of the phrasing in the RFP clearly demonstrates why any rational person should question such credibility:
We therefore need to construct a counter narrative that demonstrates the falsity or exaggeration of such claims so that the first reaction of millions of people, as well as opinion leaders, will be “There they go again!” Such a refrain will undermine the credibility and arguments of the organizations and individuals who use such dire social and economic prognostications to thwart progressive reform.
These so-called scholars have freely admitted, in their own words, that they intend to "undermine the credibility and arguments" of those who happen to hold opposing viewpoints to theirs. No unbiased research methodology, no respect for the opinions of others, no intellectual honesty. Just pure propaganda, put to the service of their ideology. That's not scholarship: it's naked advocacy.
So, what if we were to go back and revisit prior studies from some of these very institutions, or for that matter, any educational institution? Can any of the studies out of academia still be assumed to be credible? Or were they merely nothing more than the "narrative" that professors wanted to be told? And have any of those studies influenced the outcome of public policies?
Last year, I wrote a post on Big Government
entitled SEIU: Building a New American Health Care Empire?
In that post, I published a presentation
and discussed a joint public session
that SEIU held in November of 2007 at its Washington, D.C. headquarters. The last bullets of the event's agenda clearly demonstrate this cozy relationship between labor and academia, as the final session – presented by Eileen Appelbaum of Rutgers University and Mary Kay Henry, now President of SEIU - reads:
What new research might help better answer the questions identified today? Where would stronger connections between industry scholars and SEIU help advance interests of both scholars and SEIU?
Incidentally, studies were published from a variety of SEIU-friendly sources housed at several universities and colleges:
There was also the study
referenced in this CNN article
. It was authored by David U. Himmelstein, Elizabeth Warren, and Steffie Woolhandler of Harvard University, one of the schools associated with a "Cry Wolf" project member, and Deborah Thorne of Ohio University in Athens. It was a study that took such hold in the mainstream media that it was even parroted by President Obama himself, when he repeatedly told audiences that "
close to 50 percent of family bankruptcies are caused because of a health care crisis."
This year, an estimated 1.5 million Americans will declare bankruptcy. Many people may chalk up that misfortune to overspending or a lavish lifestyle, but a new study suggests that more than 60 percent of people who go bankrupt are actually capsized by medical bills.
"Unless you're a Warren Buffett or Bill Gates, you're one illness away from financial ruin in this country," says lead author Steffie Woolhandler, M.D., of the Harvard Medical School, in Cambridge, Mass. "If an illness is long enough and expensive enough, private insurance offers very little protection against medical bankruptcy, and that's the major finding in our study."
Many in the field, conservatives and moderates alike, immediately questioned the methodology used in this study. One professor of law
at the University of San Diego, clarified a glaring issue with the research:
The fundamental problem is that it isn't true. Despite what the authors have encouraged us to believe, the Harvard study, entitled "Illness and Injuries As Contributors to Bankruptcy," isn't really about medical bills, crushing or otherwise. It's about bankruptcies that can — at least if you're willing to stretch things a bit — be classified as medically related. It finds that 54.5 percent of all bankruptcies have "a medical cause." But "medical cause" is used as a term of art here. In fact, the study does not claim that injury or illness was the primary cause of those bankruptcies. And, perhaps more importantly, it does not claim that the bankruptcies were caused by the crush of medical bills.
Other articles went on to explain that many of the subjects of the study also had other debt, such as credit card debt - debt that most would not typically admit to as being a key factor in their claim for bankruptcy.
This also further emphasizes the apparent collusion that seems to exist between leftist academia, the labor unions and the liberal media. While certain professors and administrators on the left have had no qualms about using their positions in academia to influence public opinion with misinformation, as is illustrated by their intent in the "Cry Wolf" RFP, the liberal media has been equally willing to facilitate their charade.
There remains a question as to whether these are calculated, coordinated transmissions of their "research", but most rational people have had their suspicions before now; I'll leave it for others to draw their own conclusions, given the new evidence of this email and RFP.