In light of recent discussions we’ve been having about alleged bogus science, I thought this story was interesting. It concerns Dr. Marc Hauser, a “star researcher” from Harvard who is an expert on animal and human cognition, and who has written on the evolutionary basis of morality. It also appears, though, that he may have intentionally fudged research data in order to arrive at a predetermined result: Marc Hauser May Have Fabricated Data at Harvard Lab.
Some forms of scientific error, like poor record keeping or even mistaken results, are forgivable, but fabrication of data, if such a charge were to be proved against Dr. Hauser, is usually followed by expulsion from the scientific community.
“There is a difference between breaking the rules and breaking the most sacred of all rules,” said Jonathan Haidt, a moral psychologist at the University of Virginia. The failure to have performed a reported control experiment would be “a very serious and perhaps unforgivable offense,” Dr. Haidt said.
Makes for an interesting contrast, doesn’t it? You could compare it, say, to the East Anglia Climate Research Unit, where allegations of misdeeds following the theft and selective release of emails led to three independent investigations, all of which found that researchers acted with honesty and integrity, and that their results were scientifically valid.