The “Rotten Apple” at JHU

Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? Matthew 7:3

Tweet first, ask questions and discover the truth of the matter later, ideally. As I posted on LinkedIn about this Tweet from 10 June, “Pure, unadulterated bullshit. Steve Hanke, Cato Institute & Reagan White House Alum. That tells you all you need to know. Drop Steve a line and tell him what you really think: hanke@jhu.edu.” Make him earn his six- (or seven?) figure salary. It appears that many netizens have done precisely that via email and Twitter, since the shit hit the fan a week ago shortly after his Tweet appeared. There have also been a number of Vietnamese language articles and Facebook discussion about the reference to Viet Nam as a “rotten apple” in the world of COVID-19 data reporting.

Steve Hanke’s & JHU’s Stock Takes a Hit

285 public health researchers and professionals and concerned citizens from around the world have written to Johns Hopkins University (JHU) to demand Professor Steve Hanke retract his tweeted statement that Vietnam is a “rotten apple” in reference to its Covid-19 data. Read about it in this 17 June 2020 article Vietnam not Covid-19 “rotten apple”: 285 sign open letter to Johns Hopkins University JHU Professor Steve Hanke asked to accept and retract error. Here are some key excerpts that take aim at both Hanke and his employer:

We suspect that Professor Hanke’s claim in the ‘rotten apples’ chart was more politically driven than evidence based. Professor Hanke’s action likely bears several serious consequences. First, it spreads misinformation to the public about Covid-19 and preventive measures that could be highly effective if implemented correctly and consistently.

You know as well as we do that in countries like the United States, the fight against Covid-19 fake news is of paramount importance if we are to have any hopes of containing the virus. Higher education institutions, like the JHU, have critical roles to play in providing accurate information and educating the public. Professor Hanke’s Twitter account has about 257,300 followers at the time of this letter, which means the misinformation and its harm can be far reaching.

Second, Professor Hanke’s tweet severely undermines the reputation of the JHU as a leading research and teaching institution in the US and globally. Much of the work in public health policies and programs worldwide has been guided by data and evidence produced by JHU. Your faculty and scientists have thrived to provide the public with accurate data and critical evidence of public health problems; we believe the vast majority of them have held themselves to the highest research and teaching standards. An action like Professor Hanke’s erodes the pride in JHU and the trust of the University’s alumni, collaborators, friends, and supporters around the world.

Prospective students who plan to attend JHU may have to think twice about the types of faculty they will learn from, and what it means for their professional and ethical standards. Your students deserve better.

Among those who signed this letter were young Vietnamese.

Being Awesome Means You Never Have to Say Your Sorry (Because You’re Always Right!)

Here’s Steve’s lame follow-up Tweet with his faux apology, posted on the 17th:

He ends up digging an even deeper hole because ego means never having to say you’re sorry. “#Vietnam turns out to have a ‘perfect’ record in its fight against coronavirus.” Nod, wink. This arrogant academic who is so full of himself reminds me of British journalist Bill Hayton and his slanderous op-ed Vietnam’s Coronavirus Success Is Built on Repression, which I enthusiastically dissected and demolished in a 3,900-word essay Vietnam Criticized for Its First-Round Victory Over COVID-19. I ended the article with this statement and question: The question on many people’s minds is Who’s your DaddyUSA and UK? I pose the same question to Steve Hanke.

Steve Hanke is the “rotten apple” in this whole tawdry affair. Shame on him for this abuse of freedom of expression. So much arrogance, so little humility, and therefore no willingness to learn the truth. We’re all accountable for what we say. Educate yourself before shooting from the hip. Watch this 18-minute interview with Dr. Guy Thwaites, Director of the Oxford University Clinical Research Unit and Wellcome Trust Major Overseas Programme in Viet Nam. Transcend your narrow intellectual and ideological circles, and read more articles. Even armchair commentators can get it right!

There wasn’t even any sawdust in his brother’s eye. The rather large plank in his own eye remains, as do the ideological blinders. For the record, Viet Nam has 335 confirmed cases, 10 actives cases, and 0 deaths, as of this writing.

CrowIt’s What’s for Dinner

MAA: “Media” replaced with “Steve” on name tag. Cartoon by Henry Payne.

Shalom (שלום), MAA

2 thoughts on “The “Rotten Apple” at JHU

  1. Absolutely right. I am a COVID survivor from Chennai Tamil Nadu India. Greater Chennai corporation has every square inch mapped. They know who to test, when to test, who should be hospitalised who should be at home. A great community effort. We are doing it for ourselves not for some stupid posturing bimbo at JHU.

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