Two psychologists studied 917 fatal police shootings that occurred in 2015 to try to determine if the race of the officer or the civilian who was shot influenced the shooting. Their analysis found no racial disparities among those shot and killed by police. They then published their findings in a respected, peer-reviewed journal.
But when their work was highlighted and cited (in congressional testimony and in various articles), the fact that the study was done at all became “problematic.” Apparently only studies that produce results that conform to the current conventional wisdom that all cops are racist and that they shoot black people in disproportionate numbers are allowed to be published and cited going forward.
You can imagine the effect the experience of those involved in this debacle will have on the quality of research produced by academia in the future.
My June 3 Journal op-ed quoted the [Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences] article’s conclusion verbatim. It set off a firestorm at Michigan State. The university’s Graduate Employees Union pressured the MSU press office to apologize for the “harm it caused” by mentioning my article in a newsletter. The union targeted physicist Steve Hsu, who had approved funding for Mr. [Joseph] Cesario’s research. MSU sacked Mr. Hsu from his administrative position. PNAS editorialized that Messrs. Cesario and [David] Johnson had “poorly framed” their article—the one that got through the journal’s three levels of editorial and peer review.
Mr. Cesario told this page that Mr. Hsu’s dismissal could narrow the “kinds of topics people can talk about, or what kinds of conclusions people can come to.” Now he and Mr. Johnson have themselves jeopardized the possibility of politically neutral scholarship. On Monday they retracted their paper. They say they stand behind its conclusion and statistical approach but complain about its “misuse,” specifically mentioning my op-eds.
– Heather Mac Donald in I Cited Their Study, So They Disavowed It