A study came out showing that police aren’t racist killers. Now the authors are changing their minds. (Op-ed)


WASHINGTON DC – Apparently they’re now “woke”.

The authors of a controversial paper on race and police shootings say they are “retracting” their article, citing “continued misuse” in the media. The paper has become a flashpoint in the debate over killings by police and now amid protests about George Floyd, who died while in police custody. 

The 2019 article in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), “Officer characteristics and racial disparities in fatal officer-involved shootings,” found:

“No evidence of anti-Black or anti-Hispanic disparities across shootings and White officers are not more likely to shoot minority civilians than non-White officers.”

According to Clarivate Analytics’ Web of Science, the article has been cited 14 times, earning it a “hot paper” designation. Joseph Cesario, a researcher at Michigan State University, and David Johnson, a researcher for the University of Maryland, College Park, told Retraction Watch they have submitted a request to retract their article from PNAS. According to the request, they wrote:

“We were careless when describing the inferences that could be made from our data. This led to the misuse of our article to support the position that the probability of being shot by police did not differ between Black and White Americans (MacDonald, 2019).

To be clear, our work does not speak to this issue and should not be used to support such statements. We accordingly issued a correction to rectify this statement (Johnson & Cesario, 2020).”

The request continued:

“Although our data and statistical approach were valid to estimate the question we actually tested (the race of civilians fatally shot by police), given continued misuse of the article (e.g., MacDonald, 2020) we felt the right decision was to retract the article rather than publish further corrections.

We take full responsibility for not being careful enough with the inferences made in our original article, as this directly led to the misunderstanding of our research.”

The MacDonald references are two articles written by Heather MacDonald, a conservative legal scholar at the Manhattan Institute. One was published in the City Journal and the other in the Wall Street Journal.

Mary Berenbaum, the editor in chief at PNAS, told Retraction Watch:

“I can confirm that the authors contacted us early this morning to request a retraction and we are working to publish the statement as quickly as possible.”

On June 2, MacDonald discussed the study in a widely read Wall Street Journal column, “The Myth of Systematic Police Racism.” The publicity from this resulted in an enormous backlash against the academics who conducted and discussed the study — progressive academics became angry about its conclusions.

The first casualty of the backlash was Stephen Hsu, vice president for research at Michigan State University. He was allegedly forced to resign because he publicly discussed the study.

After witnessing what happened to Hsu, researchers Cesario and Johnson sought the retraction of their article. 

David Bernstein, a law professor at George Mason University, says there was no reason to retract the study other than politics:

“It’s absurd to ask that a valid study be retracted because you think others are ‘misusing’ it. A study says what it says and so long as it wasn’t actually flawed it shouldn’t be retracted for political reasons perhaps under truly extreme circumstances, which this isn’t.”

Retracting the study may diminish an understanding of police violence. Removing studies finding no racial bias in police shootings takes away from conversation about the topic. As Hsu noted:

“Cesario’s work along with similar work by others, such as Roland Fryer at Harvard, is essential to understanding deadly force and how to improve policing.

Here’s more on that attack against Hsu, as reported earlier this week:

EAST LANSING, MI.- The so-called “cancel culture” is clearly out of control. Between 40-year-old episodes of a comedy television program being canceled because they showed two women wearing mud masks, to shows that portray real life police work such as Live PD and Cops, the attempt to somehow blackwash (yes, we said it) our culture is absurd.

Now, scholars and researchers that go against the narrative of the Marxist aligned Black Lives Matter are finding themselves out of jobs as well.

At Michigan State University, The College Fix is reporting that Steven Hsu, vice president of research and innovation was forced to resign after a union of graduate employees launched an initiative to have him removed from his role.

His crime? Professor Hsu had the audacity…the unmitigated gall…to suggest that police are no more likely to shoot blacks than they are to shoot whites. The union, which represents teaching and research assistants, had been searching through old blog posts made by Hsu to try to build evidence against him.

Since Hsu is Asian, one might think there could be a hint of racism involved. However, since he is merely Asian and not black, that appears not to matter in this instance.

Unable to gain support to fire Hsu for his posts about the genetic differences among races, they found low-hanging fruit in his stance on police shootings. Hey, if Black Lives Matter says police are systemically racist and they are hunting down African Americans across the country, dammit, you better fall in line!

“The victory of the Twitter mob will likely have a chilling effect on academic freedom on campus,” Hsu told The College Fix in an email.

Professor Hsu stepped down from his vice president role on June 19 after pressure mounted from both the union, as well as university president Samuel Stanley. Hsu will be able to stay on as a physics professor at the university if he chooses to.

On June 10 during a Black Lives Matter promoted event called #ShutDownStem day, the union posted a tweet in which they asked for Hsu’s removal as vice president of research and graduate studies.

In addition, the union shared a petition against Hsu accusing him of “scientific racism” that had over 800 signatures. Also, an open letter signed by over 500 faculty and staff members at Michigan State said that Hsu supports the idea that intelligence is linked to genetics.

Conversely, another petition in support of Professor Hsu had over 1,000 signers, which included college professors from across the country.

“To remove Hsu for holding controversial views, or for inquiring about controversial topics, or for simply talking to controversial personalities…would also set a dangerous precedent, inconsistent with the fundamental principles of modern enlightened higher education,” the petition read.

Hsu rejected claims of “scientific racism” on his personal website, saying:

“I believe that basic human rights and human dignity derive from our shared humanity, not from uniformity or genetic makeup.”

LET has a private home for those who support emergency responders and veterans called LET Unity.  We reinvest the proceeds into sharing their untold stories. Click to check it out.

Murdered officer's grave desecrated before headstone even placed

A leader with the graduate student union said there were several reasons for Hsu to be removed, among them was the feeling among some people that if they disagreed with Hsu, they were not able to state their concerns over fear of reprisals.

They also, and this is key, criticized Hsu touting the study that disagrees with the narrative of Black Lives Matter.

“We found that race of the officer doesn’t matter when it comes to predicting whether black or white citizens are shot,’ the Michigan State based research said.

Hsu’s quotation of that study set off the mob.

Hsu slammed the attacks against him as baseless.

“The GEU alleged that I am a racist because I interviewed MSU Psychology professor Joe Cesario, who studies police shootings,” he wrote in an email to The College Fix. “But Cesario’s work (along with similar work by others, such as  Roland Fryer at Harvard) is essential to understanding deadly force and how to improve policing.”

Cesario is a psychology professor at Michigan State, who co-wrote the study, published in July 2019 that threw the notion that police shoot African Americans more frequently than whites into dispute.

On his blog, Hsu wrote that the research concluded:

“There is no widespread racial bias in police shooting.”

Cesario had received some minor funding for the research under Professor Hsu’s leadership.

The Wall Street Journal, in a widely reported op-ed piece called “The Myth of Systemic Racism” contained Cesario’s research.

Cesario told the Wall Street Journal:

“We had no idea what the data was going to be, what the outcome was going to be, before we did this study.”

The mention of the research in the Journal piece was publicized in the June 9 edition of InsideMSU, an email newsletter. The next day, the union denounced Hsu. Two days later, the editors of the newsletter apologized for “including the item and for the harm it caused,” according to the Journal.

The union claimed that Professor Hsu’s public statements ran counter to the position advocated by the university, which apparently backed the non-substantiated claims by Black Lives Matter of police targeting blacks at a higher rate than whites.

The union’s vice president Acacia Ackles said in an email:

“It is the union’s position that an administrator sharing such views is in opposition to MSU’s statements released supporting the protests and their root cause and aim.”

Stanley released a statement on June 19 defending himself for pressuring Hsu to resign:

“I believe this is what is best for our university to continue our progress forward. The exchange of ideas is essential to higher education, and I fully support our faculty and their academic freedom to address the most difficult and controversial issues.

“But when senior administrators at MSU choose to speak out on any issue, they are viewed as speaking for the university as a whole. Their statements should not leave any room for doubt about their, or our, commitment to the success of faculty, staff and students.”

In other words, you can “exchange” ideas, as long as those ideas do not run counter to the mob.

Time was universities and colleges were a place where students from varying backgrounds and experiences could go and engage in an exchange of ideas in order to give them different perspectives. That is no longer the case. Universities are a place where you conform with leftist ideology or you are scorned, shunned and in some cases destroyed.

There is a hue and cry to defund the police. Perhaps a better place to start would be to defund colleges and universities and divest public money from being used to support institutions where free speech is prohibited.

Want to make sure you never miss a story from Law Enforcement Today? With so much “stuff” happening in the world on social media, it’s easy for things to get lost.

Make sure you click “following” and then click “see first” so you don’t miss a thing! (See image below.) Thanks for being a part of the LET family!

Facebook Follow First


Related Posts