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April 27, 2007


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Very interesting.

There seems to be another dynamic, though, one that looks only at the existance of public perceptions (or judgments), rather than asking what those perceptions should be?

By all accounts MIT thought she was going a good job as the admissions dean. But she was doing a good job when everyone thought she wasn't the kind of person who lied about her credentials. When it became known that she was that kind of person, or that there was a good chance it would be become known, MIT might reasonably lose faith in her ability to be an effective manager of that office. They might especially be concerned that she is the public face of that admissions office if there is a public perception that such lying is an impeachable offense.

So MIT's actions "might" only have been in recognition of that perception and is not necessarily an action in support of that perception.

Importantly, though, that shifts the analysis from MIT to the public. By doing that, you no longer have the 28 year history of good work. All the public knows of this woman is she lied on her resume and she is the dean of admissions. The public is unlikely to regard this lie as fortuitous, the way a spouse (in your exmample) might, since the public doesn't have the experience of, or an appreciation for, her 28 years of good, hard work. The public's view is impersonal and short-term.

As a factual matter, this may not be relevant. It is possible MIT was just making an impersonal, short-term decision without consideration of public perception. I'm not sure what actually happened.

Joan A. Conway

I knew close relatives that have kept me from the truth of their situation, which included me.

They were able to keep false statements from the light of day and lay time bombs, because of their geographical distance and their failure to be a equal in contributing to the relationship, or were more than an equal in contribution to the relationship - paying favors.

One involved an German-French Aunt, who is now in a facility for dementia. She failed to tell me my male cousin was adopted and part hers from a liaison with another man, Scottish, during her marriage to my Greek Uncle. She didn't want a Greek baby, nor did she want an Italian, German-French niece, so she kept the secret.


Believe me I have been as guilty as the next guy when it comes to plagiarism, while in the heat of the battle prosecuting my cases with deadlines.

But of course this was done under great duress, flying by the seat of my pants, and short on time and supplies. Of course some plagiarism is not that if the author is long since dead and his prose then becomes yours, such as Henry Fields, "Tom Jones."

I love those 30 to 40 word sentences. It may not be using the "N" word to paint the art of its time, but for me the beautiful thoughts conjures up an exciting trip, such as "He refused to take it in the mouth that he would later swallow."

Emotional investment is a strong indicator of the amount of honest one is getting, but I have seen skillful deceivers who can get emotional about some issue while remaining silent on others.

There was a code of ethics among the World War II generation, Ernest Hemingway's concept of the Mexican, who bore with great difficult the pains of that conduct to remain honorable at all costs to their perceived public. This public shows up at funerals, weddings, and church holidays. This public reads false obituaries about the decease's time in the armed forces, "NOT" and wants to believe that the person dying was an honorable parent, citizen, and contributed to society, when in fact he/she was not!

All effort goes out to cover the truth to the unknown public, when some of their victims suffer from the lack of forthcoming and integrity in the announcements and public demonstrations.

They are the marriage-by-convenience types of which Newt Gingrich is a role model for. He is on his third marriage. The first marriage lasted about 19 years, the second marriage lasted about 18 years, and the third marriage is to a female who is 23 years younger than him. He wants to be your next President. He is paradying his wife as the next First Lady. But who is the next First Lady.

This is a no brainer for me.

With Justices Stevens and Ginsberg Supreme Court seat on the line, whomever the Democrats nominate will be my vote for the next U.S. President, false accent and face lift, flip-flopping, much abused wife of former President William J. Clinton, Hilary Clinton, or Barack Obama, and otherwise. I know the enemy is going to just love my choice too!

It appears on the one-hand I am responsible to liberal ideas and a Western Political System and then on the other-hand I am irresponsible to the Western Political System.

But the enemy will fight on no matter what I am afraid to say. It won't matter then what I do when I vote come November 2008.

But I think Osama will be apprehended on or about January 19, 2008, or November 9, 2008, because of Islamic numerology predictions, that will make the vote liberal anyway.

But Prince Henry might be held hostage before that if he goes into combat - an ancient Persian war plan.


Is Joan Conway a computer program that generates blog spam?


Joan, you really hit that one out of the park!


I don't know a thing about Marilee Jones, but I'll bet my last dollar she doesn't belong to a minority group.

Razor Ramon

The real problem here is that someone who fudged her resume would be tasked with the job of, at bottom, judging resumes. If it had been revealed that this person committed a crime that had gone unreported, or had concealed that she was a substance abuser, she might have weathered the storm. But she's guilty of doing one of the things her employer was paying her to keep from having happen to them.


It's Fielding, not Fields. If you're gonna cheat, at least cheat well.


I commented on this at medium length here:


but my take can be summed up thusly:

>> Phillip L. Clay, M.I.T.’s chancellor, said in an interview “In the future…we will take a big lesson from this experience.”

> Anyone want to bet that the lesson will be more persnickety inspections of credentials that do not matter, versus the (at least) equally plausible lesson of not giving a crap about degrees?

I acknowledge the signaling function that degrees play, but - in my own role as the owner of a small business that spends a LOT on technical talent - there are not-so-hard ways to dig out the same information that a degree conveys.

I suggest that the signaling mechanism explanation is not enough to fully explain our society's current credentialist craze.


Is there an ethics class anywhere on your campus? If so, I suggest you attend a semester.


The issue, in my mind, is not whether the woman did wrong -- she most definitely did -- but whether the punishment fit the crime -- which it didn't. I am quite a hawk when it comes to failures of integrity and I think that American culture is far too forgiving of such ethical lapses, especially among its politicians and leaders. I would like to see our society take a firmer stance against any form of lying.

That said, I'll also note that the punishment for lying should fit the crime. It should be tailored to fit not the actual harm but to the potential harm. Our society needs a way to assess punishment on those who lie, without recourse to criminal law. In this case, I think that MIT could have demanded her resignation but offered her the opportunity to pay a fine of some percentage of her salary in order to retain her job. There are a number of nasty problems with the law here. MIT would have had to require people to sign as a condition of their employment a waiver for such actions. Perhaps it would be necessary, in order to retain credibility, to require the miscreant to donate the money to some charity.

There is, however, another consideration: the notion that an official, once tainted, can never enjoy the confidence of others. If an official were required to pay a fine, would not the humiliation of the episode be so great as to make resignation necessary?

Americans tend to take a pretty light view of official malfeasance. For example, when the Abu Ghraib scandal broke, the Economist magazine, a strong supporter of the war in Iraq, had on its cover the words, "Resign, Mr. Rumsfeld". In most advanced cultures, the official in charge is expected to resign if something particularly shameful happens on his watch. But in our culture, we shrug our shoulders at such situations and do not enforce any standards of integrity.

Still, I wish that there was a way that the miscreant in this case had had some other means to make her penitence and still serve society.


Don't you think there's more to this story?

Somehow, NOW, this information comes to light? I think it's much more plausible that there was some other disagreement or issue with Ms. Jones' current employment, and that that factor led to the disclosure of the falsified resume.

So, perhaps the punishment doesn't fit the crime, but perhaps there's more reason why this punishment was appropriate.


Yes, Allison, that is a possibility. Another is that she had an intimate relationship with a superior, the relationship went bad, and she was punished in this manner. Or perhaps she discovered dirt on somebody and was removed to prevent her from spilling the beans. Perhaps she was part of a CIA operation and this is merely part of her cover story. Perhaps she uncovered a horrific crime by an important politician and had to be silenced.

We just don't know, do we? ;-)

Joan A. Conway

Gab I believe I have seizures!

I often make very dumb spelling mistakes.


It could be I old and I am damage goods too!

I don't cheat very often; at least I try to live an honest life. But when time is of the essence I do what I have too in self-defense.

Joan A. Conway

Gab I believe I have periodic seizures!

I often make very dumb spelling mistakes.


It could be I am old and that I am damage goods!

I don't cheat very often; at least I try to live an honest life.

Some would say too honest of a life.

But when time is of the essence, I do what I have too in self-defense.

Joan A. Conway

I believe it is Prince Harry too!

Joan A. Conway

A lawsuit can be filed against MIT and Admissions Dean, Marilee Jones, who admitted fabricating her own educational credentials by the people who lost the positions she was promoted to, when they discovered the adverse action under Title VII, under the continuous violation doctrine and equitable tolling doctrine.

See, Zia Hasam vs. the State of California, 96CV3326, Thomas A. Glab vs. the State of California, 96CV3917, Terrence F. Dudek vs. the State of California, 96CV3918, and my lawsuit, Joan A. Conway vs. the State of California, on Nexus Lexus, 94CV2686, and 94CV7776. Only Zia's is published.

An employer cannot promote a female to a position to correct an imbalance where no females are in positons of senior management or the top administrator, without violating the males employment rights to that promotion. The employer was saying, that the males can not correct the gender discrimination in positions of power, management and Administrator, by promoting a female to that position, if the gender discrimination was preexisting.

An EEOC charge against the employer is all that is need to provide the scintilla of evidence that there is a lack of integrity in the promotional process, of job evaluation process.

State government and even academia are highly influencial positions and under heavy political considerations. Hence, it is not what you know, but who you know. Few people ever sue them because of their huge bureacracy and lasting power during a lawsuit. Also the federal government places barriers in the Plaintiff's way to prevent relief in favor of the state government.

Such is the case when the U.S. Department of Justice issues the right-to-sue letter only for National Origin, Ethnic Origin, and Race, and the EEOC issues the right-to-sue letter for Gender, Disability, Religion, based lawsuits, for state employees, when the DOJ's determination is a statutory requirement for all state employees. Section 706 (f)(1), Title VII. How to overcome this hurdle - must file a claim for Negligence - Deprivation of Evidence, with all employment discrimination cases, especially Title VII claims, or under the alternative condition, you must go back into state court with the state claim of Common Tort of Negligence, or file more federal claims with the state claim, such as ADA for retaliatory conduct.


In case no one else noticed, MIT makes a good share of its revenue convincing prospective students and their parents that it's worth going tens of thousands of dollars in debt because a prestigious college education is so important these days. This is a little bad for the ol' branding, no?

Marilee Jones' time at MIT diminishes the efforts of anyone who did the hard work to finish that degree the right way. It's a slap in the face for anyone who didn't get the job because they didn't finish that degree, or get it from the right school or studying under the right professor. And it's an embarrassment for an institution that makes its money by claiming that degrees and credentialing mean something.

I finished my doctoral coursework, but not my dissertation. I've been disqualified from quite a few jobs because of it. As such, I find it a little galling to hear people who won't read past the first line of my CV standing up for someone because she lived her lie long enough.

Everyone's talking about fairness for Ms. Jones. What about the hosts of ABDs (and ordinary college graduates!) who have been denied Ms. Jones' opportunities because they were honest about only having twice or four times as much schooling as she? In my next interview, can I ask for an "honesty exemption" for my lack of a PhD and if nobody thinks I'm insufficiently doctoral after a few years we'll forget about my lack of qualifications and I can get tenure?

I feel for Ms. Jones. It must have been a rough ride and nerve-wracking as hell. But her deception compromised the institution. Either her time at MIT was a lie or the value of the degrees MIT and other institutions peddle is a lie. MIT realized, correctly, that it was better to let Ms. Jones take the fall for this one than to let the debate run too long over whether a PhD or even a bachelors degree actually means something.


Hurray for GeoffB!

The problem with the U.S. Department of Justice and the EEOC is a statutory one under the 42 U.S.C. Section 1981 a ( the 1977 Revenue Statute) and 42 U.S.C. Section 1981a(a) (the 1991 Civil Rights Act - Glass Ceiling Act, too). Hence no all claims of discrimination are treated equally. And the EEOC further discriminates in a lot of way in the past, such as incentives to close claims, taking class action claims, failure to recognize class actiion claims, and seeking out Hispanic claims under Casellas during the Clinton administration after many years of having no head in charge and a backlog of claims waiting to be closed because of incentives to do so. This is grossly unfair in a federal agency under Executive authority and the Executive oath of Office.

I have found the Democrats discriminate in their own Equal Pay Act as well, since I have EEOC claims against the Grassroots Campaigns, Inc., an administrative arm of the Democrats National Convention for this exact violation. Democrats or Republicans it does not matter when it comes to violating ones federal employment rights; they are above the law, or so they think.


As far as I know plagiarism is still considered extremely serious. Plagiarism at the university I graduated from was one of the ways to get kicked out. If you represent someone else's work as your own it's "Goodbye, and don't come back."

As for Marilee Jones doing a good job for all those years, how do we know for certain that she did?. We already know that she is a convincing liar, her resume proved that, but what else did she feel free to lie about?


GeoffB raises a good initial point that MIT is the a producer of the signal Ms. Jones counterfeited. MIT certainly has an interest in harshly punishing those who counterfeit college degrees.

Assuming employers use an MIT degree as a proxy for intelligence, there may be a big incentive for a very smart person to lie about the credential on his resume. The smarty can then prove his intelligence on the job. With actual knowledge of the smarty's intelligence, the employer may not fire him even if the resume is false.

But if the smarty will be fired for a counterfeit credential regardless of skill, then the smarty is more likely to go off to school and pay for the credential.

MIT should wake up the kids and throw a party every time someone is fired for cheating on a resume -- particularly when the cheater is someone who could have gone to an elite school but instead gambled with a false credential.

Joan A. Conway

Henry Fielding (April 22, 1707 – October 8, 1754) was an English novelist and dramatist known for his rich earthy humour and satirical prowess, and as the author of the novel Tom Jones.

[edit] Biography
Born at Sharpham near Glastonbury in Somerset in 1707, Fielding was educated at Eton College.

He became London's Chief Magistrate and his literary career went from strength to strength.

Joined by his younger half-brother John, he helped found what some have called London's first police force, the Bow Street Runners in 1749.

In 1751 he presided over notorious criminal James Field, finding him guilty in a robbery and sentencing him to hang.

Somewhere in Tom Jones is a passage where Mr. Fielding invites his readers to use his words as their own after the copyright protection had expired.


I have nothing to add on the substance of this post, but I wanted to express my hope that what looks like a typo in the third paragraph - "miseld" - was actually a deliberate misspelling in honor of Professor Currie, who in Property class liked to pronounce "misled" as "MY-zuhld."

Brian E

I was fascinated by the comments from Joan A. Conway in this thread. While a Markov chain can indeed generate comments similar to these, it appears that Joan A. Conway, aka Joan A. Cavalieri, is in fact a real person who has been reprimanded by the seventh circuit for filing frivilous lawsuits (at least, according to http://www.vlex.com/vid/20518980 ).

If you search for "Joan A. Conway", you can find many comments of hers on this blog. It appears to me as if she has an interest in the law but may not be receiving all of the assistance she may need in various aspects of her life to channel this interest productively without causing annoyance to the federal courts.


I think at least part of what explains the difference between the MIT admissions dean and the situations you pose is different balance between the need to deter prospective violations (benefit) and the cost of destroying an existing productive relationship (cost).

If I have been married for 28 years to the same person, the cost of destroying that existing relationship will be very great, even disregarding the sunk costs and considering only the cost of replacing the person on a prospective basis. Similarly, a small company firing a long-time employee who lied about his resume 28 years ago but has been productive ever since will have a difficult time replacing him, and will have to undergo significant costs in doing so.

At the same time, in these situations, the reputational downside to forgiveness is very small. If I forgive my spouse for a little lie that occurred 28 years ago, virtually no one will know except my spouse and I. And even if I acquire a broader reputation for being soft-hearted, that is hardly a major problem. Perhaps my spouse will become more emboldened to lie in the future, but the marginal effect is very small, the time horizon limited by my life expectancy, and the loss does not compare to the cost of destroying the relationship. Similarly, a small company that forgives an employee for resume fraud is unlikely to suffer signficant reputation injury, because most prospective applicants will not get wind of the fact that a certain employee managed to get away with resume fraud.

MIT and its admissions dean, on the other hand, are on the opposite side of the scale. Although Ms. Jones was highly regarded, she is by no means irreplacable. And the cost of forgiveness here is very high. MIT is a famous institution, and the admissions dean is a highly prominent position. Once this story got out, there was no way to keep it bottled in. If MIT had forgiven, it would have, for better or for worse, increased the incentives for resume fraud in the future. And for an institution with MIT's public position and with the degree of reliance that MIT (as opposed to a smaller and less prestigeous place) places on accurate resumes and credentials, that is a signficiant cost. And unlike in an individual setting, MIT is a going concern with no end to this cost in sight.

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