The Chronicle of Higher Education
October 29th, 2014
A joint letter
from the presidents of Stanford University and Dartmouth College will
be sent to nearly 100,000 Montana voters to apologize for an experiment
by three political-science professors at the two institutions. The
letter comes after voters and state officials objected to a mailer, sent
by the professors, that featured the state’s official seal and offered
information about the political leanings of candidates for the state’s
Supreme Court as part of an attempt to see whether such information
would alter how Montanans voted.
The experiment has been condemned by other researchers in the field
as unwise and perhaps unethical. Theda Skocpol, a professor of
government and sociology at Harvard University, told Talking Points Memo that the research struck her as a "lapse in judgment."
The apology letter, which will cost the universities around $50,000
to send out, asks voters to ignore the mailer and states that "no
research study should risk disrupting an election."
Which should go without saying, but in this case apparently had to be said.