aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Tuesday, April 08, 2008
Innocence Project Files Complaint to Revoke Dr. Hayne’s Medical License
I’ll have more on Mississippi’s wacky medical examiner Dr. Steven Hayne over the next few days. But today, the national and Mississippi Innocence Projects have filed a whopping 1,000-page complaint to the Mississippi Board of State Medical Licensure calling for the revocation of Hayne’s medical license.
The report "outlines several violations – spanning two decades – of the Mississippi state law that regulates medical practice," including the Kennedy Brewer and Levon Brooks cases, as well as several of the cases I first reported for reason last October.
From the press release:
“Steven Hayne’s long history of misconduct, incompetence and fraud has sent truly innocent people to death row or to prison for life. This is precisely why regulations are in place to revoke medical licenses. Steven Hayne should never practice medicine in Mississippi again, and the complaint we filed today is an important step toward restoring integrity in forensic science statewide – and restoring confidence in the state’s criminal justice system,” said Peter Neufeld, Co-Director of the Innocence Project. [...]
“We have only presented the tip of the iceberg to the State Board of Medical Licensure, but this evidence shows Steven Hayne’s unprofessional, dishonorable and unethical conduct that has deceived, defrauded and harmed the public,” said W. Tucker Carrington, Director of the Mississippi Innocence Project.
The complaint filed today says, “We believe the conduct in this complaint alone is sufficient to justify immediate revocation of Dr. Hayne’s license … His work compromises the accuracy and integrity of medicine and criminal justice throughout the state. We urge you to put an end to his misconduct through an expeditious, thorough investigation of his work and revocation of his license."
LATER: Hayne Responds.
License plates shield CA officials from tickets & tolls
With all the fuss recently over red light cameras, Boing Boing points us to a fascinating story about how somewhere around one million Californians have special license plate that basically shield them from toll booth transponders and red light cameras. Basically, the system was originally designed for police, putting their license plate info in a special secret database to shield home addresses from criminals who might want to hurt them. That system is no longer needed because DMV records are all now private. But one of the unintended consequences of the system was that it became nearly impossible to send a remotely recorded ticket (such as via a toll booth reader or a red light camera) to the guilty party—since you couldn’t get their address. It even works in some cases when people are pulled over by police, because once the plate is looked up the record indicates that the plate is in this protected category, so officers often let the driver off for being “protected.”
The truth about racial sterotypes and spending
Bill Cosby has famously accused blacks of spend money unwisely, buying expensive sneakers rather than investing in their kids’ education and thereby reinforcing harmful stereotypes.
I have to admit that I have been unsure of what to think myself. I’ve tended to choose the more generous notion that such spending is in line with the nouveau riche, who just haven’t yet learned how best to spend their money, something I can also relate to.
Research by Erik Hurst and Kerwin Charles has definitively resolved my doubts. Chicago GSB Magazine:
The anecdotal evidence seems to be everywhere. “There’s a perception that if you go into poor black neighborhoods, the value of cars is much higher there than in comparable-even white, middle-class-neighborhoods,” said Hurst, professor of economics and Neubauer Family Faculty Fellow. And, in fact, he found supporting data eight years ago with Kerwin Charles, Steans Family Professor in Education Policy at the university’s Harris School of Public Policy Studies and visiting professor for 2007â€“08 at the Becker Center on Chicago Price Theory at the GSB. They stored the idea away while they worked (together and independently) on other studies about racial wealth differences.
When Cosby made his remarks in 2004, Hurst, who is white, and Charles, who is black, had been focusing on conspicuous consumption and the signaling value it communicates. The resulting study, “Conspicuous Consumption and Race,” shows that blacks and Hispanics spend 30 percent more than whites on clothing, cars, and jewelryâ€”an amount that averages out to around $2,000 per year per household. What’s more, blacks and Hispanics are spending less on education and health care and saving less money.
The reason? Status, according to Hurst and Charles. Because blacks and Hispanics have lower income on average, they’re more likely to be perceived as poor. Wearing nice clothes, driving a flashy car, and sporting fancy jewelry, they hope, shows other people that they are not poor.
What’s more, white people do it, too, their research shows.
In comparing spending data for whites in southern states with that of whites of comparable income in the Northeast, they discovered that southern whites outspend northeastern whites when it comes to highly visible, highly portable consumer goods that denote status. “People do care about their position in society and will work hard to signal their relative rank,” Hurst said. “If people don’t know your income and you want to show them, the way to do it is to consume visible goods. You see it among blacks, whites, and Hispanics.”
We believe what we want to believe
It’s always worth remembering and science backs it up:
Psychologists have long known that humans have a remarkable ability to tune out facts that don’t jibe with pre-existing beliefs. Farhad Manjoo, author of True Enough: Learning to Live in a Post-Fact Society, says the natural draw toward “truthiness” has run amok in the modern media age.
Manjoo was interviewed last week for On The Media:
BROOKE GLADSTONE: Now, you show how false facts on both the right and the left make their way through partisan echo chambers, but you do suggest that conservatives have a different relationship with their media.
FARHAD MANJOO: Right. People have studied how conservative blogs, for instance, link to each other and how liberal blogs link to each other, and they found that the people on the right generally have a tighter network and are more likely to indulge in only those sources.
And this has been a longstanding pattern where psychologists have noticed that people on the right are more efficient at filtering out things that kind of don’t really support their views.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: We all know it’s really easy to manipulate audio, video, and especially with Photoshop and digital images. But it was interesting â€“ you said that the biggest effect of the Photoshopification of our society is not that it’s easier to fool people but that now they have even more reason not to believe the evidence of their eyes and ears if they don’t want to.
FARHAD MANJOO: If you live in a world where everything is possibly fake, where every photo you see could have been Photoshopped, it gives you license to dismiss that photo. This is true not only of photos but of basically all kind of documentary evidence that comes at us these days. We can always assume that there’s been some digital foul play there and that it’s possibly not a truth.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: How do we have an informed society if you can disbelieve anything you aren’t likely to approve of?
FARHAD MANJOO: Well, in a number of areas I argue that we don’t have an informed society; that one of the problems of this age is that we have people disagreeing over things that in the past I don’t think they would have disagreed about â€“ over the basic science behind global warming, for example, where you have huge numbers of Americans who simply dismiss the science.
And one of the difficulties about this situation is that the whole system sort of operates unconsciously. You can’t really tell people that your truth is not true. They’re not going to believe you.