Dropping the F-bomb in academia: who is kidding who?

In a recent post I pointed out that Professor Campos of the University of Colorado Law School had – once again – made an error in the way in which he presented data about the financial success of law school graduates. As this is an important area of public policy debate and it is an area that Professor Campos claims is important to him, it seems crucial that participants in the debate get the basic data correct. A recent article in the New York Times for example erroneously suggested that lawyers have not “rebounded” from the downturn that occurred in the wake of the 2007-2008 credit crisis. This is incorrect as I explained to the author and as Professor Simkovic of Seton Hall Law School has now exhaustively demonstrated here.

It is one thing for an outsider like Mr. Scheiber of the Times to get this data wrong but it altogether another when Professor Campos does so. For years he has been portraying himself as a leading authoritative figure in the debate. But now he himself admits that the mistake I pointed out was his fault. Here is an exchange he had today on his own blog about it:

Bill Murray says:
June 24, 2016 at 10:07 am
Why did you compare the change in median lawyer pay with the change in the average American worker’s salary, particularly after just making the point that the median is the key value? As the salary data is probably not normally distributed (and in fact cannot be truly normally distributed), there is no reason to expect the change in the median and the change in the mean are equivalent

Paul Campos says:
June 24, 2016 at 10:17 am
It was an oversight. As I point out in this post, the increase in the median worker’s salary is still greater than the increase in the median lawyer salary (although to not as great an extent as the increase in the average worker salary over the median lawyer salary).

In other words, Professor Campos admits that he made the same mistake I described in my earlier post. And yet, despite this, Professor Campos contends that my blog post is an example of “academic fraud.” So he admits I found a serious error in the way he presented data but I am the fraud? I don’t know whether or not Professor Campos made the mistake intentionally or not – I take him at his word that it was an oversight. But it was his mistake and he is the one who has staked his entire career (as far as I can tell he no longer produces legal scholarship) on his argument that his own chosen profession is a scam. But that certainly gives him no basis to question my original post much less my professional ethics when he admits it to be accurate.

He seems to be arguing that because my post dealt with one error in his original post but did not deal with a second point he made (regarding the financial prospects of solo practitioners) that I have committed some kind of original sin. He does not stop to ask himself – which I would think any well intentioned critic would do – whether or not there is a legitimate reason to respond to one key error and not deal with, as he himself contends, a point that is entirely separate. I agree that the question of solo practitioners is a separate question and if I choose to respond to his arguments about that issue I think doing so in a separate blog post is perfectly reasonable. It is certainly not evidence of fraud to choose to focus on one – rather complicated – issue in a single post as I chose to do.

Professor Campos is well aware of the damage that he is attempting to impose on my career and reputation by dropping the academic F-bomb and I believe he owes me a public retraction and apology for his careless and irresponsible behavior.