Ch. 3 “Writing Ethically”
Let’s breeze through Ch. 3 (a very short chapter) and then move on to think critically about statistical (mis)use. Below are some important aspects of the chapter:
- Review the various groups to whom you’re obligated professionally (pp. 31-32).
- Tebeaux & Dragga mention that “Typically, none of your choices will be entirely satisfactory, and from time to time all your choices will be unsatisfactory” (p. 32). One goal of your college education is to learn to deal with ambiguity, and a sign of maturity is to deal with situations that aren’t black and white. We have to learn to deal with gray areas.
- Or, as Tyrion Lannister from Game of Thrones put it (paraphrasing): “Everyone is a little disappointed, so that must mean the decision was correct.”
- Codes of Conduct
- Various professional organizations require adherence to codes of conduct. These codes can be rather formal like the ones defined by “the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants or…the American Medical Association” (p. 36).
- Although we talk about legal gray areas, violating these codes of conduct can be pretty clear evidence of liability in litigation brought against you or your organization.
- Ethical Communication
- “Writing clearly, accurately, and effectively is a crucial part of your job. And once a document leaves your control, it takes on a life of its own” (p. 38)
- Notice that Tebeaux & Dragga mention “deliberately using imprecise or ambiguous language, manipulating statistics, using misleading visuals,…and distributing misinformation” are unethical (p. 38).
- Furthermore, “promoting prejudice” is also unethical, and there is no shortage of the kinds of trouble people and organizations have gotten into–especially lately–because they promoted prejudice (p. 38).
- Obviously, passing off work as your own without proper credit being given to the original source is plagiarism. However, that’s not all that falls under plagiarism, and it’s your job to make sure you’re appropriately citing material and/or using copyrights, trademarks, and brand standards with permission.
Chapter 3 has a good discussion on manipulating data and illustrations (pp. 41). Darrel Huff’s “How to Lie with Statistics” is a classic example of data manipulation, so please read that before next week.
Keep up with the syllabus. We’ll be continuing our ethics unit next week. Don’t forget to do your Weekly Class Discussion Post #13 before Thursday, 4/13, 11:00pm