The only summary I have seen is from Karlstack, noting that he is siding against the doxxers and has defended EJMR in the past. Most of the people who care already know the details, so I won’t repeat them. I will however add a few observations: 1. I don’t read EJMR, so however bad it
The post The EJMR doxxing issue appeared first on Marginal REVOLUTION.
The only summary I have seen is from Karlstack, noting that he is siding against the doxxers and has defended EJMR in the past. Most of the people who care already know the details, so I won’t repeat them. I will however add a few observations:
1. I don’t read EJMR, so however bad it is, or however useful it sometimes may be, is a closed book to me. It is not the next marginal thing I might read if I had more time. And I have never posted there. So my comments should not be taken as reflecting any deep knowledge of the site itself. I would rather listen to Wings songs, if that is what it came down to.
2. The soon to be published paper supposedly reveals IP addresses of many EJMR posters. This seems wrong to me, noting that many posters (presumably) are making entirely innocent observations, or if not innocent remarks nonetheless remarks that should not be doxxed. They may wish to criticize a colleague or superior, or express a repugnant political opinion. Or whatever.
2b. What about posters from Turkey, China, Russia and elsewhere, who have expressed political opinions? Isn’t this point enough on its own to settle the matter?
2c. Two side notes — first, I am delighted to see that GMU does not appear in the list of top baddies — and yes we do have a large graduate program. I strongly suspect we have significantly better mental health. Perhaps the rest of you could learn something from us?
2d. All those “nice” real economists who write such terrible things — and people say I am the Straussian! Instead, I am the one who teaches you Straussian codes.
3. It is often possible to turn an IP address into an identity of a specific person. There is a raging debate about various statistical methods for doing this, presumably to be done by non-authors of the paper. It seems wrong to me to offer weakly coded information to the world on matters that were originally confidential, even if (let us say) ten percent of the posters were engaging in illegal libelous or harassing activities. The others were not.
There are always ways of identifying some IP addresses and tying them to specific humans, even if the above-mentioned statistical methods do not succeed. (No, I am not going to mention them, but they do not require rocket science.)
4. GPT-4 says it is hacking. (The answer I received included: “It is both unethical and illegal, as it infringes on various privacy and computer misuse laws.”) But what does it know? The fact that, through mistakes of the hosting site, some of the information was semi-public may change the legal status of the hacking claim, but I don’t think it alters the moral issues. What if Amazon, by mistake, left a bunch of credit card numbers out there to be scraped, and then you picked them up? That is still the wrong thing to do, even if those card numbers were used to order nasty books.
5. Some significant percentage of hostile on-line posters are mentally ill, or whatever other word you may wish to use. (There is plenty of good evidence for mental health problems being rampant in economics academia.) In other cases, these individuals may simply have a very different understanding of social reality, whether or not they would count as mentally ill. I believe in generosity of spirit and behavior toward the mentally ill, rather than taking their worst pronouncements and spreading them around and immortalizing them. I would not go running down the halls of Bellevue with a tape recorder, and then post the contents on-line, with possible voice identification, on the grounds that the shouted ravings were “toxic.” Not even if the ravings were accompanied by written posts.
6. It is striking to me how little regard cancel culture has for the mentally ill, for bipolar individuals, for schizophrenics, and also for many autistics. These individuals, at least at times, have very different standards for what they will say publicly. I don’t believe in punishing them per se for those different standards, though I do believe in trying to help or educate them when possible. I don’t believe in doxxing them.
7. If a platform is say 20 percent malicious libel and harassment (not making this claim about any specific place!), and that same platform is 20 percent the mentally ill (with who knows what degree of overlap?), I don’t believe in pulling down the entire curtain on the whole thing and exposing everybody, or exposing a significant share of those on the platform. That is deontologically wrong. Instead, you ought to find a way of dealing with the problems from the first twenty percent without so seriously harming the interests of the second twenty percent, the mentally ill ones. I don’t believe in promoting toxic behavior against the mentally ill, just to punish some earlier toxic behavior, much of which was done by the non-mentally ill.
So — and I do not say this lightly — I believe the authors of the paper under consideration are behaving unethically, and I hope they will retract their work and then destroy it.