Follow HLS on
Los Angeles Times
Is greener always better?
An op-ed by Cass R. Sunstein and Simon Hedlin.
Consumers judge environmentally friendly goods and services on the basis of stereotypes, which often turn out to be wrong. As one might expect, green stereotypes are frequently positive, and lead people to perceive green goods as better than they actually are — but sometimes green stereotypes are negative, which producers and public officials ought to keep in mind as they try to nudge the market in a more sustainable direction.
Weighing The Good And The Bad Of Autonomous Killer Robots In Battle
...It doesn't take much imagination to conjure a future in which a swarm of those robots are used on a battlefield. And if that sounds like science fiction, it's not...Human Rights Watch and Harvard Law School's International Human Rights Clinic added to the urgency of the meeting by issuing a report calling for a complete ban on autonomous killer robots. Bonnie Docherty
, who teaches at Harvard Law School and was the lead author of the report, says the technology must be stopped before humanity crosses what she calls a "moral threshold." "[Lethal autonomous robots] have been called the third revolution of warfare after gunpowder and nuclear weapons," she says. "They would completely alter the way wars are fought in ways we probably can't even imagine."
The Harvard Crimson
Occidental Students Protest Harvard Law Professor as Commencement Speaker
Students and faculty at Occidental College are protesting the school’s choice of Harvard Law School professor Randall L. Kennedy
as their commencement speaker for his controversial statements on race-related activism and the film “The Hunting Ground.”...The vocal opposition prompted Occidental College President Jonathan Veitch to respond in a message to school affiliates defending his choice and emphasizing the importance of listening to a range of viewpoints. “Randall Kennedy was chosen because he is a thoughtful and nuanced commentator on race in America,” Veitch wrote...Kennedy said in an interview that he is not surprised some Occidental affiliates disagree with his views, as race and sexual assault are controversial subjects. Diverging opinions, however, should not bar institutions from inviting speakers, he said. “Universities, above all places in American life, should be places where debate and free exchange are facilitated and expected,” Kennedy said. “The idea that because a group of people disagrees with somebody, that in it of itself simply cannot or should not be the basis for excluding someone.”
The Mistake That Separates Most Traders From the Pros
An op-ed by Cass Sunstein.
Do investors suffer from behavioral biases? New research demonstrates that they do: They think that a crash is far more likely than it actually is. After you read the newspaper, you might well overreact to bad news about the market -- and lose money as a result. The best explanation is that investors suffer from what behavioral scientists call the “availability heuristic,” which distorts people’s decisions in many domains. In their pathbreaking work on human behavior, Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman found that people make judgments about probability by asking about which events come most readily to mind (and hence are cognitively “available”).
Breathalyzers, Textalyzers and the Constitution
An op-ed by Noah Feldman.
New York’s Legislature is considering a proposal to give police officers “textalyzers,” gizmos that would enable roadside checks of drivers suspected of using mobile phones behind the wheel. Given the dangers of texting while driving, the technology may be a good idea. But is it constitutional? The answer requires looking at two issues. One is the constitutional status of smartphones. The Supreme Court unanimously held in 2014 that the police need a warrant to search a phone. That implies that using a textalyzer without a warrant would be unconstitutional. The second issue is the comparison between the textalyzer and the Breathalyzer.
MassBay Professor Threatens to Sue Student Who Organized Protest
A MassBay Community College professor is threatening legal action against a student who organized a protest last week in response to the school's handling of abuse allegations. Bruce Jackson, Chair of the Department of Biotechnology and Forensic DNA Science at MassBay, has provided Patch with a letter of intent to sue Greg Gregory for defamation following statements made on a flyer advertising the protest...John Goldberg
, a Harvard Law School professor who teaches about defamation cases, said that if the case were to move forward much scrutiny would be placed on Jackson's status as a public or private figure, as MassBay is a publicly funded community college. "The main question is whether or not the professor counts as a public figure by being employed by a state institution," Goldberg said. "If you're a public figure and defamed, you have to prove that the person who defamed you said something about you that was false and knew at the time that they were uttering a falsehood, which is a hard standard to meet."
...Xenophobes and xenophiles share a belief in the fecundity of newcomers...The fertile immigrant is partly an illusion. Women tend not to move country with babies in tow, explains Gunnar Andersson of Stockholm University: they travel first and then have a child quickly. That makes them seem keener on babies than they really are. Partly, too, the countries that send migrants to the rich world have changed, points out Michael Teitelbaum
, a demographer at Harvard Law School. Fertility rates have plunged in both Mexico and Turkey, from more than six children per woman in 1960 to less than three today.
In Worcester, Judge Gertner tells law group that she’s OK with cameras in courtroom
Cameras, for pictures or video, aren’t allowed in federal courtrooms – even in high-profile cases like those of terrorist Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and mobster James “Whitey” Bulger. Retired Massachusetts federal court judge Nancy Gertner
wants the restriction to be lifted. Speaking Thursday morning at a breakfast of the Worcester County Bar Association, Ms. Gertner referred to her years as a trial lawyer in state courts, where cameras are allowed. She said a camera never interfered with proceedings.
Some Crimes Can Be Forgotten
An op-ed by R. Orszag & Cass R. Sunstein.
The U.S. is supposed to be a nation of second chances, but for the 70 million Americans with a criminal record, we’re not doing such a great job. Even among those whose crimes were nonviolent and committed long ago, too many still bear a scarlet letter. So it's encouraging to see many states now moving to expunge or seal the records of nonviolent crimes that aren't repeated. The stigma from a drug or other offense, even one committed in young adulthood, can linger for decades. In one recent experiment, job applicants randomly assigned a criminal record were half as likely as other applicants to get an offer of employment or even an interview request.