Knox and Mummolo Article Endorsed by 800+ Scholars: Bad Science on Racial Bias in Policing

Saturday, Jul 11, 2020

Dean Knox and Jonathan Mummolo's article published July 11, 2020, Prominent Claims that Policing is Not Racially Biased Rest on Flawed Science is co-signed by more than 800 academics and researchers in business, communications, computer science, criminal justice, criminology, economics, engineering, gender, geography, history, law, mathematics, medicine, natural sciences, political science, psychology, public health, public policy, race, sociology, and statistics. Co-signers include 48 Princeton and CSDP colleagues.

The issue has vital implications for policy about policing:

Misleading statistics have been used to justify racial injustice in the past. They should not be used to do so now. This faulty research should not be relied upon in the current debate over policing reform.

Slipshod inferences have no place in this debate. As America considers policing reforms, we must appeal to rigorous research. When we lack data, we must acknowledge uncertainty. Leaders should mandate nationwide collection and sharing of standardized policing data to facilitate progress. But gaps in knowledge must not be filled with faulty science.

The article that is the subject of Knox and Mummolo's piece has now been retracted by Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). For additional information, see the retraction statement, along with some background from Retraction Watch. Jonathan Mummolo is assistant professor of politics and public affairs and CSDP faculty associate at Princeton University. Dean Knox, formerly at Princeton and CSDP faculty associate, is assistant professor of operations, information, and decisions at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. Both are political scientists specializing in the study of police behavior.