Anyway, I decided to send an email to one of these professors, Richard Samuels, cc'ing the chairman of the MIT political science department. I will update this blog with any response I get, unless I am asked to keep the response confidential.
It is time for academics to fear blathering about areas they know nothing about. And it is always time to ridicule journalists like Selig.
Your comments in the Jerusalem Post.
From: S K
Sent: Mon 6/29/09 7:02 PM
Dear Professor Samuels:
You were quoted in the Jerusalem Post regarding American support for Israel:
I find two things especially striking regarding your contributions. First, I note the pervasive vagueness in your writing and the lack of evidence for your sweeping claims. For example:
"The mood in the United States is changing," . . . "And it's changing in ways that I think deserve a lot of attention, especially from an Israeli point of view. . . . The ability to count on unquestioned support - we're talking now not for the State of Israel, but for the government's policies - I think has eroded, and I think has eroded very dramatically. . . ."
What does such language mean, precisely? I cannot even understand how a scientist could use vague language like "the mood in the United States." Who precisely have you surveyed? What is your study design? A panel? What are your variables? Or do you mean some subset of "elite" opinion? If so, which subset and where is your evidence?
Second, I wonder what qualifies you to comment so sweepingly as a professor given that you have published no work in this area. You are a Japan specialist after all--and you haven't even published on Japanese public opinion, if you do intend to make claims about public opinion.
Are academic standards irrelevant when Israel is involved? Or is American politics such a simple field that its findings can be intuited from a study of Japan's Goldilocks Strategy?
UPDATE July 1, 2009
Your humble blogger has received no response either from Richard Samuels, the academic who took part in this charade, or from the chairman of the political science department at MIT, Charles Stewart. Here is their contact information.
One day I hope that we have a clearinghouse for information that will allow the average concerned reader to hold academics and journalists accountable (through fully legal means, of course). Until then, my poor efforts will have to do.