Saturday, August 28, 2010

A slow-motion academic train wreck

Altmann: Hauser apparently fabricated data: There's new information emerging from the slow-motion Marc Hauser train wreck [...] Gerry Altmann posted a statement on his weblog with a more detailed account: harvard misconduct: setting the record straight', 8/27/2010) [...] the facts and interpretations that Altmann provides go beyond, to a shocking degree, previously described issues of lost data or disagreement about subjective coding of animal behavior.

I have no special knowledge or insight into this disaster. The Language Log posts on the subject are very much worth reading for anyone who cares about scientific integrity, experimental method, academic governance, and the dangers of neat theory in the social and biological science.

As a researcher and former academic administrator, this is very scary stuff. It puts in doubt the work of a whole network of researchers, it makes us worry about what else we have missed, it puts academic self-governance in doubt, it adds to the distrust of science.

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