More on the math wars

Scott Jaschick:

The Milgram/Bishop essay that Boaler said has unfairly damaged her reputation is called “A Close Examination of Jo Boaler’s Railside Report,” and appears on Milgram’s Stanford website. (“Railside” refers to one of the schools Boaler studied.) The piece says that Boaler’s claims are “grossly exaggerated,” and yet expresses fear that they could be influential and so need to be rebutted. Under federal privacy protection requirements for work involving schoolchildren, Boaler agreed to keep confidential the schools she studied and, by extension, information about teachers and students. The Milgram/Bishop essay claims to have identified some of those schools and says this is why they were able to challenge her data.
Boaler said — in her essay and in an interview — that this puts her in a bind. She cannot reveal more about the schools without violating confidentiality pledges, even though she is being accused of distorting data. While the essay by Milgram and Bishop looks like a journal article, Boaler notes that it has in fact never been published, in contrast to her work, which has been subjected to peer review in multiple journals and by various funding agencies.
Further, she notes that Milgram’s and Bishop’s accusations were investigated by Stanford when Milgram in 2006 made a formal charge of research misconduct against her, questioning the validity of her data collection. She notes in her new essay that the charges “could have destroyed my career.” Boaler said that her final copy of the initial investigation was deemed confidential by the university, but she provided a copy of the conclusions, which rejected the idea that there had been any misconduct.

One thought on “More on the math wars”

  1. I really hate this kind of behavior and it’s deservedly negative consequences. At a time when science is under continued and relentless attack, we are subject to seemingly childish and emotional attacks between researchers.
    I cannot imagine any more damaging scenarios than the ad hominem attacks and other propaganda techniques being used among researchers. It’s impossible to convincingly argue that science and evidence is objective and reaches solid truths as opposed to mere opinions, no better than the uninformed opinions of the anti-science crowds when supposedly educated researchers behave like religious zealots.
    I’m especially at a loss as a non-expert when I would like, no demand, the information I need to use to form an informed opinion is subject to such zealotry and non-scientific behavior.
    Perhaps, I should just agree that educational research is all pseudo-science, and ignore everything that is proposed and said, regardless of the supposed expertise of experts. Perhaps the real purpose of educational research is to rehabilitate astrology.
    Makes my responsibility as a citizen and parent impossible.

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