The perspectives in Opinions represent the viewpoints of the individual authors and should not be interpreted as reflecting University positions or policy.  Authors include SMU faculty, students, staff and board members.  SMU embraces freedom of expression and welcomes opportunities for the exchange of diverse viewpoints, pledging to maintain the University as a home to civil discourse.

Convictions based on the pseudoscience of hypnosis allow for the miscarriage of justice

Sept. 19, Holly Bowen, assistant psychology professor at SMU Dallas who specializes in memory issues, for a piece challenging the legitimacy of testimony from interviews conducted while the subject is under hypnosis. Published in the Dallas Morning News: https://bit.ly/33NtSGL

Since the inception of criminal investigations, the techniques and procedures used in these inquests have been plagued by pseudoscientific claims.

From spectral evidence allowed at the Salem witch trials and phrenologists interpreting bumps on the skulls of criminals, to modern-day polygraphs to detect lying and hypnosis to unlock repressed or forgotten memories, the justice system, and ultimately people’s lives, have too often been dictated by “junk” science. . .


Discerning truth and vetting facts is the only way to preserve our democracy

Sept. 11, Jared Schroeder, associate professor of Journalism specializing in Free Press/Free Speech at SMU Dallas, for an op-ed warning about the distortions of Truth and Fact that plague our politics and society. Published in The Hill:   https://bit.ly/2FwEXDu

It’s time we stop acting like truth still matters. It doesn’t.

I’m not saying it shouldn’t. It should — especially in an election year — but somehow along the way it stopped mattering and we’re facing potentially severe consequences.

Take the revelations from Wednesday that the president knew COVID-19 was a significant threat to human life in February and that he purposely downplayed the threat. The information comes directly from the president’s words and he has acknowledged them. Yet this information will change nothing for many of his supporters. Many won’t believe it is true. The truth, the overwhelmingly factual evidence, simply does not matter. . .


Preserving the enduring legacy of peaceful protest

Sept. 4, Jack Levison, who holds the W. J. A. Power Chair of Old Testament Interpretation and Biblical Hebrew at Perkins School of Theology at SMU Dallas, for a piece championing the resistance against the Nazis by a brother and sister during World War II and lamenting the attacks upon peaceful protests world-wide today. Published in the Austin American-Statesman: https://bit.ly/3bsGiqY

When my wife Priscilla and I return to Germany for research, we stay at an apartment building in Munich that sits a stone’s throw from the famed English Garden, a magnificent mixture of streams and forest and fields. Halfway to the English Garden, we pause at the Geschwister-Scholl-Platz. Unremarkable by any measure, this small square sits in front of an immense and austere university building. It has few budding trees, none of the lavish flowers and hedges that can be found a 10-minute stroll away at the majestic Residenz. Beyond its unkempt fountain surrounded by ordinary paving stones, though, the Geschwister-Scholl-Platz harbors the profound story of Hans and Sophie Scholl.


Contact tracing can stop COVID-19 — only if Americans allow government access to personal data


Aug. 25, Jo Guldi and Macabe Keliher, history professors at SMU Dallas, for a piece advocating that the U.S. emulate Taiwan by devising a way for the government to access location data to alert citizens during emergencies or during efforts to mitigate infection spread during a pandemic. Published in The Hill and MSN: https://bit.ly/2QqGptt https://bit.ly/34A65w8

Most Americans await a vaccine to end the pandemic and get us back to work. But the drama about vaccines and masks has obscured a practical answer to ending the pandemic that has already worked in other parts of the world, and which could end the pandemic across the U.S. in only a month, at minimal cost: contact tracing. Contact tracing means entrusting government representatives or corporations with intimate data about individuals’ locations and creating a potentially sensitive repository of information about citizens. That data can save lives — but it will only come into being if Americans trust the system for managing that data. 

American cities and states have mainly opted to avoid contact tracing and the shortcut out of the pandemic that it offers. The ostensible reason offered is American’s concern about data privacy, which is both legitimate and important. . .


Arts Organizations Can Overcome ‘Twin Pandemics’


Aug. 14, Zannie Voss and Jill Robinson, SMU professors who monitor arts groups nationwide, for a piece recommending a survival path for performing and cultural organizations who, in some instances, have lost 25 percent of their funding due to the impacts of coronavirus and racism. Published in Inside Sources and available to its 300 affiliates. https://bit.ly/2Ecpnwa

Arts expert Donna Walker-Kuhne recently declared that the United States is facing a “twin pandemic” of COVID-19 and racism. We see this as the anchor for a conversation about the future.

How can the field of arts and culture, which has been so deeply affected by both crises, move forward?

Forced closure of arts organizations at the start of the pandemic demanded concentrated attention on the short-term. Our thoughts turned to resiliency and guideposts for organizations as they began to contemplate the path forward.

To begin, we took stock of potential financial outcomes over a 12-month horizon. Using October 2020 as an average “reopen” assumption, we estimated that the annual aggregate net loss to the U.S. field of nonprofit arts and cultural organizations will be $6.8 billion. On a per-organization basis, this translates to an average deficit equivalent to 26 percent of budget. . .




Don’t let the pandemic pause your career. Seize opportunities to network online

Aug. 14, Liz Navarro, a communications consultant and adjunct professor of public speaking at SMU Dallas, for a commentary advocating for business professionals to keep networking during the pandemic.  Published in the Dallas Morning News: https://bit.ly/3izNp3c

Networking is one of the most powerful ways for us to connect to new opportunities in our careers. For those of us who have traditionally relied on networking to find mentors or clients, learn new skills, or engage with people from our industry, 2020 may have felt isolating, lonely, and lacking in ways to create real connections.

Luckily, there are still ways to create meaningful connections and grow relationships in our virtual world. Platforms like LinkedIn, conferences that have gone digital, and online networking groups offer opportunities to meet the people who may become our next hire, partner, collaborator or advocate.

A caveat: Digital networking isn’t about sending cold LinkedIn sales messages or increasing the number of followers on our profiles. It’s about building real relationships with people who find value in our work and starting conversations that lead to mutually beneficial collaborations. . .


U.S. Could Learn From Taiwan About Tracking COVID-19 Cases

Aug. 5, Jo Guldi and Macabe Kelifer, both SMU Dallas history professors with expertise in mining large data banks, for a piece demonstrating how important it can be for government officials to be able to contact citizens (as happened in Taiwan during a COVID-19 flareup crisis) during an emergency. Published in Inside Sources. https://bit.ly/39YDZex

In April, 200,000 Taiwan citizens received a text message alert from the Taiwan Central Epidemic Command Center. All were informed that they had been in contact with someone infected with COVID-19.

This was an alarming development, for despite schools and businesses remaining open, the spread of the virus seemed under control, with fewer than 400 cases recorded and only six deaths.

But, a Taiwanese naval defense flotilla had recently docked in the southern port in Kaohsiung, and 744 sailors spread out across the island. At least 28 of those sailors were found to be infected. . .


Tech firms duke it out with Trump again in a no-win situation

Aug. 1, Jared Schroeder, associate professor of Journalism specializing in Free Press/Free Speech at SMU Dallas, for a piece warning about the lack of progress curbing disinformation on Big Tech social media and internet platforms. Published in the Orange County Register and Southern California News Group affiliates. https://bit.ly/30iWUO6

Emmy nominations came out this past week. It’s a shame the performances of our elected officials and tech barons in Washington were not considered.

President Trump, as well as Senate and House committees, turned their attention to internet regulation, creating a spectacle that was mostly misguided and incapable of resolving any actual concerns about the growing power of big-tech firms raise in our democracy.

Trump announced he was taking on regulating social media again. As is often the case, he has recognized a legitimate concern, but seems only capable of making it worse. . .