Insidious

From Swamp Angel, by Ethel Wilson (1954):

Nothing is more potent and insidious than unanimity about an only child, or division about an only child.

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Retraction Watch II

Wrote about a major academic fraud scandal in accounting research. Thinking of all the research grants this academic fraud, Dr. James E. Hunton, must have received. Is anyone trying to claim the money back? Are there not criminal proceedings possible, relating to the fraudulent application of public funds? The academic fraud has, to no great surprise, disappeared, having resigned from his academic position at Bentley University “for family and health reasons”.

He was so highly thought of that he had an endowed chair, the Darald and Juliet Libby Chair in Accountancy, at Bentley University, an endowment he had held since 2002. The Libbys still have a dedicated endowment fund at Bentley. Darald R. Libby had been a Bentley graduate, who later qualified in both law and public accountancy, and was a principal owner of the Massachusetts-based David Clark Company, a manufacturer of aerospace and military equipment. Juliet Libby was a Certified Public Accountant. Fortunately, both passed before this disgrace to their funding became publicly known. Darald died in 2009, while Juliet died in April of 2012.

Hunton also wrote or co-wrote textbooks, as well as books of supposed scholarship. He also held editorial positions on academic journals, including the preeminent journal, the Accounting Review, raising the issue of the integrity of his acceptances of articles. The articles are now qualified as having been accepted by James Hunton. As recently as 2012, before his resignation at the end of that year, he had received the Mee Family Award from Bentley University for “a lifetime of scholarly work demonstrated by a distinguished faculty member.” He is not mentioned in current announcements of past award recipients.

As extracted by Margaret Soltan from the Bentley College report of its investigation:

Hunton failed to cooperate with the university’s inquiry. Despite being told to retain any relevant documents, Bentley found that Hunton had cleaned out all his physical files before leaving, and that his laptop had been wiped clean.

Other electronic records reviewed by the university found that certain documents related to Hunton’s research had been altered after allegations were first made against him in the fall of 2012.

In particular, Hunton had said that confidentiality agreements with the firms used in his data-gathering prevented him from sharing original data with his coauthors and editors. The university’s investigation found that the agreements included “unusual redactions, contradictory dates, and — most damaging of all — evidence that the documents had been revised” after allegations were raised.

Never ceasing to commit fraud. Never even attempting to come marginally clean. As Margaret Soltan discusses further:

For a guy like Hunton, who had the balls to make up vast swathes of accounting firm employees across the globe, to pretend to interview them, to create copious data about them, and to write it all up in probably hundreds of academic papers, the business of dropping out and changing his identity was probably a cinch. No doubt he’s living in Jamaica, having dyed his hair red, had facial surgery, and stolen the identity of some poor student he had twenty years ago. You ain’t gonna find Hunton.

How indictable an offence?

This is what this academic fraud looks like.

When younger:

Hunton, James

When older, a few years ago, as an allegedly distinguished research presenter:

Hunton, James 4

No need for him to dye his hair, to move into disguise.

Seems like he has been wearing wigs, inside and out, for a long time.

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Retraction Watch

Wrote about the retraction of academic articles, based on academic fraud. Based on article by David Malamed published in CPA Magazine, a journal for Canadian professional accountants, but where no academic fraud in relation to accounting was detailed. Went to the Retraction Watch website. A recent major example of academic fraud in accounting research occurred with respect to Dr. James E. Hunton of Bentley College. 30 retractions in total, including a number of papers co-authored with renowned accounting academic Robert Libby. Hunton was involved in extensive co-authorship; none of the papers retracted in this list of 25 involved Hunton as a sole author.

There was also a Canadian connection, where Hunton had a co-authored a paper retracted by the Canadian academic accounting journal, Contemporary Accounting Research.

It appears that Hunton was the source of the data, which others relied on to manipulate and then to interpret the results. So if one is not directly involved in the data collection, this is one potential result.

Would seem that a ready control would be to require that all data be made available online. Hunton countered inquiries about his data by saying that at least some of it was covered by confidentiality agreements, which were non-existent. He also tried to wipe his laptop of data, plus to change other data that was being questioned.

As of 2010, Hunton was one of the highest peer-ranked accounting researchers in America. He also held an endowed chair.

Concerns about the integrity of Hutton’s data, all related to co-authored papers, go back to papers published, and now retracted, as early as 1996.

Hunton was known as a research specialist in ethics and auditing.

He was published in the major academic accounting journals, including the preeminent journal, the Accounting Review. Could not the review editors have insisted that the data be publicly available, or accessible? Wouldn’t have mattered, in certain cases, but it would have been a partial control. One can still directly fake data, but its lack of logic would be more readily discoverable, if subject to public review.

Seems to easy to go on that train. Had an experience at one university where they were compelling students to evaluate each other in group projects. Centralized database. Penalty for not evaluating one’s peers was the withholding of marks. Must have been some time constraint on the data collection, because suddenly one of the collectors is advising another, perhaps unfortunately copied to me, that a number of my students must have dropped out. Wrote back that that was not the case. Response was silence. The collector preferred to categorize students as having dropped out, rather than to wait to compel disclosure, by withholding the grade. Yet those who are most reluctant to evaluate others perhaps have much to add to a data set like this, while those who jump at the chance to critically evaluate their fellow group members…

Well, if at an early stage of one’s academic career, one is prepared to miscategorize non-response data, seems like one is on an early journey on the Hunton train.

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Porpoise

From Swamp Angel by Ethel Wilson (1954):

Who would not want to be a seal or a porpoise? They have a nice life, lived in the cool water with fun and passion, without human relations, Courtesy Week, or a flame thrower.

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Precedence, Situational Virtue, Dementia

Neil Remington Abramson commented as follows:

A serious question, in my view, is whether forgiveness or repentance precedes the other. If we can never forgive until the harm-doer repents and/or makes amends, then the harm-doer holds our feelings hostage and continues to do us harm. Jesus says to forgive and doesn’t say to await prior repentance.

There’s actually an interesting cross-cultural ethical difference here between Western and Confucian. According to Philip J. Ivanhoe in Confucian Moral Self-Cultivation, the Western focus, thanks to Aristotle, is to establish what is “the good”. Confucianism, in contrast, focuses on “being good”.

So we debate the precedence of repentance versus forgiveness. A Confucian works on improving his or her situational virtue. I think it’s more virtuous to “live and let live” and to be in control of one’s own moral agency. And Jesus says, along with Confucian founders (Confucius, Mencius, Xunzi) that we should focus on our own inadequacies, and not those of others.

So that’s what I try to do, though imperfectly. And I try to confess when I fail, which is not uncommon, I’m afraid. Sometimes I fail spectacularly, like a recent shouting match with an old man in the park over what he perceived as poor driving on my part. Five minutes later, he had apparently forgotten the altercation. And I thought “blessed are those with dementia”. I remember and am ashamed that in the heat of the moment I did not practice what I profess to believe. And what would God say – I should ask Him!?

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Rejoice

From Swamp Angel, by Ethel Wilson (1954):

Jealousy had rejoiced cruelly, for an instant, at hurting the unhurtable.

Just one line.

Don’t f–k up the shot…

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Joe Cocker: Do I Still Figure In Your Life

Well I hardly even know your face
It’s got a brand new look about it
That’s hard to trace

Written by Pete Dello. On Joe Cocker’s 1969 debut album, With A Little Help From My Friends.

How did Cocker find it to include it? Turns out it was originally released in England in 1968, by then teen idol Dave Berry. Much less emotional version.

Something about ownership of a song through getting to its emotion…

But all those wild people
You know they make me nervous

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