Mark Kinlaw: Irresponsible conclusions

April 1, 2014 

In the March 27 editorial “ Wrong target,” you suggest UNC “back off what could be seen as bullying a whistle-blower.”

I can’t help that The N&O, or anyone else, interprets UNC questioning research conclusions of Mary Willingham as bullying. Her proclamation to the national news media that a number of UNC football players were practically illiterate was clearly irresponsible by almost anyone’s standards. It also put UNC between a rock and a hard place.

After a quick analysis of Willingham’s methods, UNC officials discovered inconsistencies that likely skewed her findings. What were they supposed to do? Keep it to themselves until time was allowed for a complete and thorough investigation? During which time the news media would have shredded the integrity of the university even further. The media would have accepted Willingham’s conclusions as gospel and spread the word like one of Jesus’ disciples.

Instead, UNC publicly questioned her interpretations of test results, based on documented instructions from the creators of the tests she used. Furthermore, her research, which was supported by UNC, was suspended because she circumvented standard methodologies meant to protect the privacy of her test subjects.

You interpret this as bullying. I interpret it as a reasonable response to questionable methods and conclusions, which were made public irresponsibly.

Mark Kinlaw

Holly Springs

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