Yes, liberal activism is so dangerous to your academic career!

This is a joke, right?

Chronicle of Higher Education:
Academics who champion causes may be gambling with their careers. But for some dedicated activists, the choice is clear.
Mr. Hansford, an assistant professor of law at Saint Louis University, [...] When he joined the law faculty at the university, in 2011, it never occurred to him to cast his causes aside: "I was an activist before I was a scholar, you could say."

In the months since the unrest in Ferguson, Mr. Hansford has become a well-known face in the Black Lives Matter movement. He has served as a legal observer during protests, was once arrested and jailed overnight, and was a key organizer of #FergusonToGeneva, a delegation that frames police violence in the United States as a human-rights issue worthy of global attention. [...]

"There’s a tradition of black scholar-activists who fought for justice," says Mr. Hansford, who studies human rights, legal ethics, legal history, and critical race theory. "This particular activism is almost like a calling for me." But he knows it could hinder his academic career.

With issues of social justice dominating the national conversation, some academics identify as scholar-activists, a term typically used by those deeply involved in progressive causes. They take to the streets as part of protest movements, work alongside community organizers, and push for policy changes, applying their research to underserved communities. Yet balancing activism and scholarship can be risky, especially while on the tenure track.

"I was an activist before I was a scholar, you could say."
Yes, I'm sure it's soooooo hard to get tenure after making a name for yourself in the Black Lives Matter movement. The school is probably breaking open the champagne and getting ready to give him a big fat tenure package. This is exactly the kind of professor schools are looking for.

Or, how about this one:
Rajani Bhatia saw a Ph.D. as a way to enhance her work in the reproductive-rights movement, including a job at an advocacy group. But once in a women’s-studies program [...], she found that staying on top of her courses, teaching undergraduates, and pursuing a research agenda stripped her of spare time.

"I realized the very first year that I was going have to give up certain aspects of my life," says Ms. Bhatia, who is now an assistant professor of women’s studies at the University at Albany. "For me, it was my activism."

With her tenure clock ticking, Ms. Bhatia still keeps her activist work at a minimum. She maintains connections to groups she used to collaborate with and tries to attend some academic conferences that draw scholar-activists, but that’s about all she can manage, she says. "My clear priority is getting tenure."
In other words, when she gets tenure, she can finally ditch those pesky little things like doing work, teaching classes, publishing, etc. and get back to her activism! And people wonder why the cost of college is skyrocketing. Pre-professors do all the work, knowing once they get tenure, they can go off and do the things they really want to do and leave all the work to the next round of indentured servants, that is to say, graduate students.


Now, how about the activist who dedicates their time to working for conservative causes? How would a Tea Partier, the gun rights advocate, the anti-abortion campaigner, the campaign worker for Jeb, be able to juggle their graduate school commitments or their pre-tenure professorship with their activism? The question, of course, is moot, since they would never have received the offer for a place at the school in the first place.

Annals of Bad Math (with update)

This popped up on my facebook feed today, posted by OccupyDemocrats (of course,) and is an incredibly fabulous example of bad math.

Here's the WaPo link.

What WaPo says:
The finding comes from a government study considered a gold standard to measure public-health trends. Researchers found that just over 8 percent of children 2 to 5 were obese in 2011-2012, down from nearly 14 percent in 2003-2004. Although the drop was significant, federal health officials noted that obesity rates for the broader population remain unchanged, and for women older than 60, obesity rates rose about 21 percent during that period.
And here's the JAMA article link.

What JAMA says:
There was a significant decrease in obesity among 2- to 5-year-old children (from 13.9% to 8.4%; P = .03) 
So, did you see what Occupy did there? They took the rounded up 14% and the rounded down 8.4% and did this: (14 - 8)/(14) = 0.4285. Then claimed that was a decrease in obesity of 43%!!! It's: 13.9% - 8.4% =  5.5% drop in obesity among 2-5 year olds, not 43%.

However, here's another problem. Obama's big push has been to change the composition of school lunches, but the drop in obesity has been among pre-school aged kids. How exactly can she take credit for that?

Update: Apparently, this began with bad math from the New York Times back in February of 2014 in an article written by Sabrina Tavernise:
Federal health authorities on Tuesday reported a 43 percent drop in the obesity rate among 2- to 5-year-old children over the past decade, the first broad decline in an epidemic that often leads to lifelong struggles with weight and higher risks for cancer, heart disease and stroke.
[...] But the figures on Tuesday showed a sharp fall in obesity rates among all 2- to 5-year-olds, offering the first clear evidence that America’s youngest children have turned a corner in the obesity epidemic. About 8 percent of 2- to 5-year-olds were obese in 2012, down from 14 percent in 2004.
The article remains on their website, uncorrected, with the wording above (as of 7/6/15.)

Slate blasted the NYTimes piece  (corrected Salon to Slate. 15/08/23) back when it came out:
A far bigger issue is that studies like these, and the headlines that result, drive the discussion about public health and policy in this country. The media seizes on sexy results, amplifies them without due skepticism, and the public is misled. This can impact billions of dollars allocated to campaigns meant to capitalize on the supposed implications of scientific studies. It's hardly an academic footnote in this case. Commentators are already attempting to adduce the reasons for the decline in obesity in this age, pointing to the dietary changes in preschool menus, awareness campaigns, and exercise programs that specifically target tots.