Friday, September 24, 2010

In Reply: Why Dr Fred Gottheil's "experiment in Academia" didn't yield valid results

In reply to An experiment in Academia - Wolfville watch, after reading several comments discussing unknown factors that may've skewed the experiment, giving Dr. Gottheil the results he got (and was looking for? Maybe.)

Of course, you also have to know the methodology by which each petitioner tried to collect their signatures.

It's my understanding that Dr. Lloyd was one of quite a few professors involved in the Israel petition, and that there were several years of divestment work put in by human rights organizations and liberal educators, both in this country and elsewhere, prior to this petition even being written, and that the signatures were collected via a website self-selected by many of the professors. (In other words, the petition didn't so much come to them, as they searched it out and went to it.)

Dr. Gottheil, on the other hand, sent "cold call" e-mails to strangers one time, and cannot account for how many ended up in spam folders or tossed from "IN" boxes unread because they came from an unfamiliar name/address. He had no organization behind him, no website explaining his intent or ability to make any difference, and no discernible history dealing with human rights in the Middle East. He did not contact any of his personal, professional or political friends and colleagues to solicit their signatures, and did not do any followup to his one e-mail with the people who didn't reply the first time.

We also don't know how long Dr Lloyd and those working with him took in trying to gather their signatures, after their petition was composed... ...though I'd imagine it was likely longer than it took Dr Gottheil to send out his 675 e-mails. (And that's assuming he didn't send them in bulk, which, though faster for him, would greatly increase the likelihood of ending up in a spam filter.)

As far as I'm concerned, counting the number of people who didn't respond to a single unsolicited e-mail from a stranger that may or may not've even made it into their "IN" box is hardly the best way to determine who does and does not care about the rights of women or gay folks in Middle Eastern countries. YMMV, however...

In any case, Dr. Gottheil's Statement of Concern is now posted at, and is accepting signatures from anyone willing to speak out against human rights abuses in the Middle East. As you're obviously interested in the story, I urge you to step up and sign it: Support Regarding Discrimination in the Middle East against Women, Gays, and Lesbians Petition

Obviously, we'll be counting on everyone here to reply to this request.

Sumbitted for moderator approval 9/24/10, 8:37 PM (Wis blog time)

To peruse all my other commentary on this subject, previous and since, click the "GOTTHEIL" label, below.

No comments:

Nerd Score (Do nerds score?)