David R. Henderson  

The Economist Who Didn't Bark

What would an IS shock look li... FDA and Patent System Discoura...

Actually, economists plural.

One of my favorite Sherlock Holmes stories is "Silver Blaze" because Holmes used as evidence the fact that a dog didn't bark.

In line with my relentless "glass half full" way of looking at the world, I was heartened to read a piece on the Weekly Standard about Melissa Click, the faculty member at the University of Missouri who physically threatened a journalist who was filming her protest. Over 100 of her colleagues signed a letter supporting her. Glass half empty so far, right?

But take a look at the letter and the various departments represented by the signers. What department do you notice is absent?

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COMMENTS (20 to date)
Sam Haysom writes:

Geology? Biology? Astrophysics? I know which department yiu mean obviously, but since so many other departments didn't "bark" either what does that really tell us about the economics department. Seems far more suggestive of the general social isolation that characterizes the non-liberal arts departments.

Anonymous writes:



Airman Spry Shark writes:


David R. Henderson writes:

@Sam Haysom,
I know which department you [sic] mean obviously, but since so many other departments didn't "bark" either what does that really tell us about the economics department.
That there’s a good reason to feel somewhat good about the economics department. That does not preclude feeling good about geology, biology, astrophysics, mathematics, and engineering.

Jon Murphy writes:

Only one person from the Journalism school and none from political science or law. That's pretty encouraging, too

AMW writes:

Also notably absent: the Law School. (Thank God!)

MikeP writes:

The letter I saw had two Journalism and one Law.

While I of course knew what the original post was getting at, my prior going into reading the list was that engineering would not be present.

Given 29 faculty in economics and 130 in engineering, that's an impressive showing for engineering. But given the closeness of economics to social sciences and humanities, it's an impressive showing for economics too.

Art Carden writes:

The list is almost wholly drawn from the humanities. There were only a few people from the natural sciences, the social sciences were poorly represented as well, and I don't recall seeing any of the business school disciplines listed, either.

Jhanley writes:

No political scientists? I'm as surprised as I am gratified.

Miguel Madeira writes:

This could be a political scientist (the name of the Department is a bit ambiguous):

"Amalia Dache-Gerbino, Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis"

BJ Terry writes:

These are the divisions, departments and units not represented (per this page:

Academic Support Center; Accessibility and ADA Education; Accountancy; Accounting Services; Adaptive Computing Technology Center; Administrative Services; Admissions, Graduate; Admissions, Undergraduate; Advancement; Adventure Club; Advertising; Aerospace Engineering; Agricultural Economics; Agricultural Education; Agricultural Journalism; Agricultural Systems Management; Agronomy; Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine; Animal Sciences; Anthropology; Applied Social Sciences; Architectural Studies; Assessment and Consultation Clinic; Athletics; Biochemistry; Biological Engineering; Biological Sciences; Business Information Center, MU; Business Services; Campus Dining Services; Campus Facilities; Cashiers; Chancellors Diversity Initiative; Chemical Engineering; Child Development Lab; Child Health; Civil and Environmental Engineering; Communication Science and Disorders; Computer Science; Conference Office; Convergence Journalism; Counseling Center; Culinary Cafe; Dermatology; Disability Services; Diversity Initiative, Chancellors; Division of IT ; Economic Development; Economics; Educational, School and Counseling Psychology; Educational Technologies; Electrical and Computer Engineering; Entomology; Environmental Health and Safety; Equity Office; Family and Community Medicine; Film Studies; Finance; Financial Aid; Fisheries and Wildlife; Food Science; Food Systems and Bioengineering Division; Forestry; French; General Stores; Geological Sciences; Health Management and Informatics; Health Psychology; Honors College; Horticulture; Hotel and Restaurant Management; Human Development and Family Studies; Human Resource Services; Industrial and Manufacturing Systems Engineering; Institutional Research; Internal Medicine; Italian; KBIA; KOMU; Korean; Learning, Teaching and Curriculum; Libraries, MU; Licensing and Trademarks; Linguistics; Magazine Journalism; Mail Services; Management; Mandarin; Marketing; Mathematics; Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering; Medical Pharmacology and Physiology; Military Science and Leadership; Missouri Unions; Mizzou Advantage; Mizzou Online; Mizzou Store; Molecular Microbiology and Immunology; Natural Resources; Naval Science; Neurology; News Bureau; Nursing; Nutrition and Exercise Physiology; Obstetrics and Gynecology; Occupational Therapy; Ophthalmology; Orthopaedic Surgery; Otolaryngology - Head Neck; Parent Relations, Office of; Parking and Transportation Services; Parks, Recreation, and Tourism; Pathology and Anatomical Sciences; Peace Studies; Personal Financial Planning; Photojournalism; Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation; Physical Therapy; Plant Microbiology and Pathology; Plant Sciences, Division of; Police Department, MU; Political Science; Portuguese; Printing Services and Digiprint Centers; Procurement Services; Psychiatry; Public Affairs; Publicatons and Alumni Communication; Public Health; Radiology; Radio-TV Journalism; Research, Office of; Russian Studies; Social Work; Soil, Environmental and Atmospheric Sciences; Spanish; Special Education; Sponsored Program Administration; State Historical Society; Statistics; Student Affairs; Student Health; Surgery; Textile and Apparel Management; Tiger Garden; Tiger Team Store; University Affairs; University Catering; University Concert Series; University Events; University of Missouri Press; University Registrar; Veterinary Medicine and Surgery; Veterinary Pathobiology; Visitor Relations; Web Communications

And these are the ones that are represented:

Art; Art History and Archaeology; Biomedical Sciences; Black Studies; Chemistry; Classical Studies; Communication; Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis; English; Geography; German and Russian Studies; Health Sciences; History; Information Sciences and Learning Technologies; Journalism Studies; Law; Music; Philosophy; Physics and Astronomy; Psychological Sciences; Religious Studies; Romance Languages and Literature; Rural Sociology; Sociology; Theatre; Womens and Gender Studies

Buckland writes:

Actually it looks like about all departments that are preparing students to actually get a job passed on signing the letter. I see a single Chemistry prof, one from Physics and Astronomy; other than that it's pretty barren from STEM.

Actually more surprising than Econ is the complete lack of business profs on the list. Mizzou has a large business school, but none seem to be a part of The Movement.

Mark V Anderson writes:

I haven't watched this case closely, but I don't see that the letter was that terrible. They say that Click apologized for her actions, so why are so many on the warpath to get her fired? She acknowledged that she screwed up.

And I wonder if firing isn't a great over-reaction even if she hadn't apologized. If she's a good teacher, why should she be fired for what she did outside the classroom? I think her defenders might be right that firing her would be an attack on her freedom.

David R. Henderson writes:

Rather than naming various commenters above, I thank you for pointing out the other disciplines not represented.
@Mark V Anderson,
They say that Click apologized for her actions, so why are so many on the warpath to get her fired? She acknowledged that she screwed up.
I think my standards are tougher than yours. When someone threatens someone with physical violence, I don’t think an apology is enough, especially when, as it appears, the apology might not have come without there being evidence of the effect.
And I wonder if firing isn't a great over-reaction even if she hadn't apologized.
That one is clearcut. If she hadn’t apologized, that would suggest that she would do it again.
If she's a good teacher, why should she be fired for what she did outside the classroom?
She did it on campus. If I physically threatened someone on the campus where I teach, I don’t think it’s relevant that I didn’t threaten that person in the classroom where I teach.

AMW writes:

@Mark V Anderson, the letter says that the undersigned consider her actions "at most a regrettable error." That is an outrageous statement. I'm on the fence about whether she deserves dismissal, but I wouldn't sign that letter in disappearing ink.

sam writes:


Imagine what the reaction would be if an older white male had been the perpetrator, and the victim was a black lesbian.

Firing would be certain. Assault charges would be certain.

Njnnja writes:

Whenever someone talks about "negative space" problems like this, it reminds me of the story of Abraham Wald, and how what is observed and able to be measured is a vitally important part of determining what the negative space really means.

One can look at disciplines that are not represented (or lightly represented) in this letter and conclude that people in those areas don't agree with the contents of the letter. But it could be simply that those areas didn't make it in this particular letter for reasons other than disagreement with its contents.

Glass half empty?

Jay writes:

I agree with Njnnja, its possible the letter just wasn't circulated within the business and engineering schools and only within the, mostly liberal arts presumably, mailing list or internal faculty group where it would get the most signatures.

Daublin writes:

Awful lot of "Studies" in that list of departments....

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