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Professor fired for ‘faking data to prove lynching makes whites want longer sentences for blacks,’ 6 studies retracted

Florida State University criminology professor Eric Stewart was a guru of the claim that “systemic racism” infests America’s police and American society.

Now he’s out of a job on account of “extreme negligence” in his research.

The academic was fired after almost 20 years of his data — including figures used in an explosive study, which claimed the legacy of lynchings made whites perceive blacks as criminals, and that the problem was worse among conservatives — were found to be in question.

College authorities said he was being fired for “incompetence” and “false results.”

Among the studies he has had to retract were claims that whites wanted longer sentences for blacks and Latinos.

To date, six of Stewart’s articles published in major academic journals like Criminology and Law and Society Review between 2003 and 2019 have been fully retracted after allegations the professor’s data was fake or so badly flawed it should not have been published.

The professor’s termination came four years after his former graduate student Justin Pickett blew the whistle on his research.

Pickett said they had worked together in 2011 researching whether the public was demanding longer sentences for black and Hispanic criminals as those minority populations grew, with the paper claiming they did. But Stewart had fiddled the sample size to deliver that result when the real research did not, Pickett said.

When the investigation into Stewart began in 2020, he claimed he was the victim and that Pickett “essentially lynched me and my academic character.”

After sixteen years as a professor of criminology at Florida State University in Tallahassee, Provost James Clark formally notified Stewart he was being terminated in a July 13 letter.

“I do not see how you can teach our students to be ethical researchers or how the results of future research projects conducted by you could be deemed as trustworthy,” Clark wrote to Stewart, who has been absent from his role since March.

Clark said as well as the six officially retracted studies, other work by Stewart was “in doubt.”

The retracted studies looked into contentious social issues, like whether the public perceives black and Latino people as threats and the role of racial discrimination in America’s criminal justice system.

Clark said as well as the six officially retracted studies, other work by Stewart was “in doubt.”

One 2019 study, which has been retracted, suggested historical lynchings make white people today perceive black people as threats.

Stewart floated the idea “that this effect will be greater among whites… where socioeconomic disadvantage and political conservatism are greater.”

Another retracted 2018 study suggested that white Americans view black and Latino people as “criminal threats,” and suggested that perceived threat could lead to “state-sponsored social control.”

And in a third, Stewart claimed Americans wanted tougher sentences for Latinos because their community was increasing in numbers and becoming more economically successful.

“Latino population growth and perceived Latino criminal and economic threat significantly predict punitive Latino sentiment,” he concluded in the 2015 study, which has now been retracted.

Stewart’s research also delved into the relationship between incarceration and divorce, street violence, the impact of tough neighborhoods on adolescents, whether street gardens reduce crime, and how race impacts student discipline in schools.

But the disgraced professor was able to rise to prominence as an influencer in his field despite his studies from as early as 2003 now being retracted.

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