Jan. 10, 2002
Vol. 21 No. 7

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    In the News

    The Chronicle’s biweekly column In the News offers a digest of commentary and quotations by a few of the University faculty members, students and alumni who have been headlining the news in recent weeks. Chicago faculty members are some of the most frequently quoted experts, so space allows publishing references to only selected examples. To read many of the full newspaper articles mentioned in this column, visit the In the News column at the University News Office Web site at: http://www-news.uchicago.edu/.

    Three University professorsóWayne Booth, Steven Levitt and Richard Sternówere featured in the December issue of Chicago magazine. Booth, the George M. Pullman Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus in English Language & Literature and the College, discussed his books on irony in a story that questioned the sentiments of writers across the country who had been proclaiming the “end of the age of irony,” following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Irony is, said Booth, “a marvelous social gift. It makes for a tighter bonding between people.” Levitt, Professor in Economics and the College, was interviewed about his statistical evidence that shows that between 1993 and 1999, 4 to 5 percent of Chicago elementary school teachers cheated on the results of their students’ Iowa Test of Basic Skills. Stern, the Helen A. Regenstein Professor in English Language & Literature and the College, discussed his writing and teaching career in a story that highlighted his newest and eighth novel, Pacific Tremors.

    Martha Nussbaum, the Ernst Freund Distinguished Service Professor of Law & Ethics in the Law School and the College, was the subject of a feature story in the Monday, Dec. 17 issue of Time Magazine.

    Robert Aliber, Professor of International Economics and Finance in the Graduate School of Business, and Marvin Zonis, Professor of Business Administration in the GSB, made economic predictions for the coming year at an event at the Chicago Hilton. Their annual business forecast also was the subject of a story published in the Wednesday, Dec. 30 Chicago Tribune. Aliber also was quoted in a Wednesday, Dec. 19 Tribune story about the International Monetary Fund’s prediction of a major recession in 2002, and was interviewed for a Friday, Dec. 21 story about the recent economic and political crisis in Argentina.

    Steven Levitt, Professor in Economics and the College, was quoted in a Thursday, Dec. 20 Chicago Sun-Times article that reported on his research on drunken driving and fatal automobile accidents. The research, which he conducted with Jack Porter, a professor at Harvard University, found that drunken drivers are 13 times more likely to cause a fatal car accident than sober drivers are, and that severe punishment for repeat DUI offenders and saturation patrols are most likely to succeed as deterrents. “The peak hours for drinking and driving are between 1 a.m. and 3 a.m., when as many as 25 percent of drivers are estimated to have been drinking,” said Levitt.

    The advice of John Bailar, Professor in Health Studies, was mentioned in a story published Monday, Dec. 24, in U.S. News and World Report, which described the risks of food-borne terrorism. Bailar, who chaired a National Academy of Sciences review of the FDA bureaucracy, argues that food-safety offices should be consolidated under one roof where a broad range of expertise could be shared and authority unified, the story reported.

    David Weisbach, Professor in the Law School, was quoted in a Thursday, Jan. 3 New York Times story that reported on a federal appeals court ruling in a case that many tax experts believe will be a blow to the IRS’s attempts to eliminate many corporations’ tax shelters. Weisbach has argued in several articles that Congress must prevent corporations from attempting to legitimize tax shelters.

    Leon Kass, the Addie Clark Harding Professor in the Committee on Social Thought, was quoted in a Tuesday, Dec. 25, New York Times story about the Human Genome Project. Kass, who was appointed by President Bush to head a new Council on Bioethics, had addressed members of the National Human Genome Research Institute on the social and moral impact of genomic advance. Kass told the group: “There are other goals and goods beyond gaining knowledge and promoting health, important as they are.” He added that other questions concerning the genome project have yet to be adequately addressed including, “the meaning of genomic knowledge for human self understanding and the understanding of families, genealogy and race.”

    The research of Jack Cowan, Professor in Mathematics, Neurology and the College, was the subject of a full-page Chicago Tribune article in the Tuesday, Jan. 1 issue. Cowan, who has studied hallucinations for 20 years, has developed with his colleagues a mathematical model that can accurately predict the shapes of different hallucinations. “We calculated that given the kinds of anatomy in the visual cortex, there are only four kinds of patterns it will make when it goes unstable,” he said in the story. Those four kinds of patterns from the mathematical model correspond to patterns that were classified by Heinrich Klüver, another University professor, in his research during the 1920s and 1930s.

    Wendy Doniger, the Mircea Eliade Distinguished Service Professor in the Divinity School and an expert on Sanskrit, was featured in a Monday, Dec. 31 Chicago Sun-Times article about her forthcoming translation of the Kamasutra, in which she corrects some of the original translation’s mistakes. “There are lots of little errors that really start to add up. You start to get a number of misunderstandings.” Doniger’s translation will be released in May.

    Charles Lipson, Associate Professor in Political Science, appeared as a guest on WMAQ-TV Thursday, Dec. 27, to discuss the latest bin Laden videotape and the escalating tensions between India and Pakistan. Lipson also was a guest on WGN Radio’s Extension 720 program on Tuesday, Jan. 1.

    Marna Seltzer, Director of the University of Chicago Presents concert series, was profiled in the Chicago Tribune’s arts section Sunday, Dec. 30. Seltzer was one of 16 people in the Chicago area who were featured as “inspirational individuals.”