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September 20, 2011

Disappointing neglect of crime and punishment among this year's MacArthur "geniuses"

Especially given the historic importance and enduring political salience of crime and punishment issues, I am disappointed (but not  surprised) that the latest group of MacArthur "genius" grant recipients does not include a single person focused on crime and punishment issues.   This New York Times report on the grants provides the basic background:

An economist whose investigations into student achievement examined the impact of rewards for good grades; a Pulitzer Prize winner who was the country’s 16th poet laureate; and a clinical psychologist seeking to pinpoint who is at risk for suicide were among the 22 recipients of the $500,000 “genius awards,” to be announced on Tuesday by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

This year, as in years past, the 12 men and 10 women selected are a mix of the well known and the little known, and they represent a broad swath of the arts and sciences. The MacArthur award, which has been bestowed on 850 people since the program began in 1981, comes in five annual payments of $100,000, with no strings attached....

Robert Gallucci, the president of the MacArthur Foundation, said many factors are considered when choosing fellows.  The secretive selection process relies on hundreds of anonymous nominators to help identify potential honorees. “Fellows are selected for their creativity, originality and potential to make important contributions in the future,” Mr. Gallucci said.

The full list of this year's MacArthur fellows, with bios about each, can be found at this webpage.  Though I failed to find any fellows with any apparent history concerning crime and punishment issues, I did find this mini-mission statement on the MacArthur Foundation: "[W]e work to defend human rights, advance global conservation and security, make cities better places, and understand how technology is affecting children and society." Regular readers should not be surprised that I strongly believe that a better understanding of modern crime and punishment trends is central and essential to defending human rights, advancing ... security, making cities better places, and assessing how technology is affecting children and society.

Notably, in prior years, folks with crime and punishment connections have gotten these genius grants  —  e.g., David Simon of Homicide and Wire fame got a grant in 2010; a journalist and a law professor working on criminal justice issues got grants in 2009.  Perhaps the real problem is not with how the MacArthur folks make grant selections, but rather a shortage of people working with "creativity, originality and [having the] potential to make important contributions in the future" in the arena of crime and punishment.

September 20, 2011 at 09:49 AM | Permalink


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I have never heard of a recipient who was even that clever, let alone a genius. Most are left wing oddballs, weirdos, dirty hippies, reflecting the bias of people with time enough to sit on these wacko boards.

More disturbing. The Supremacy sat on one of these review panels, but for the Federal government, involving amounts many times bigger than these "genius" awards. It was not asked to return after expressing disgust at the amount of dirty pool and politics going into decisions that should have been based solely on merit.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Sep 21, 2011 12:59:45 AM

Not much to discover or originate in crime and punishment. Look at countries with low crime rates and those with high crime rates. Many are poor and rich in both categories. Wealth is not a factor.

What is a factor?

Low lawyer to population ratio is a powerful predictor of low crime rate, as in Japan, China, Egypt.

Next, low crime areas have high levels of public self help.

Low crime rate nations have strong patriarchal family systems.

Lastly, low crime rates are associated with tight criminal justice systems.

Genius? Sure, to the lawyer. But it's something any three year old knows. If likely to get caught, you don't do it.

Why is the US maintaining such a high crime rate? Government dependent lawyers want it that way, and have crime rates finely tuned in areas just a few miles apart. They control crime rates to very accurate tolerances. In one area, usually with dark skinned people, it's welcome to Fallujah. In a lawyer residential area 7 miles away, shoplifting makes the local paper, and there is virtually no crime. It's the KKK again in a stealthy mode, in the guise of a lawyer Trojan Horse, feminism, destroying the family, promoting the full time Roman Orgy lifestyle that requires government funding and forbearance of criminality. .

The Supremacy is a genius for using knowledge gained in pre-school, totally forgotten by the lawyer. Yet, it would refuse any McArthur genius grant as offensive Commie propaganda.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Sep 21, 2011 6:58:09 AM

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