Did this Harvard professor tell a big lie?

Did this Harvard professor tell a big lie?
Marc Hauser

Marc Hauser, an evolutionary psychologist and biologist, was a professor at Harvard University who resigned because of scientific misconduct, which means he was dishonest: either he made up, selected or altered his data, or plagiarised from other people. In his case, he wrote that he saw monkeys in videotapes of a lab experiment reacting to sounds when his research assistants saw nothing happening, which sparked an investigation.

Science is a discipline whose aim is to discover the truth, but scientists are human and they crave recognition (and career advancement). Was that what happened to him?

A comprehensive article in The Nation magazine examines Marc Hauser’s case in detail:

Scientific misconduct is often difficult to detect. Although grant applications and research papers submitted to prestigious journals are rigorously reviewed, it is very difficult for a reviewer to uncover fabrication or falsification. Attempts at "replication"repeating someone else’s experimentare usually another weak filter for misconduct. Journals are reluctant to publish results of attempts at replication, whether positive or negative, thereby discouraging such attempts. In any case, particularly in the complex world of biology, it is often hard to repeat a specific experiment because of the multitude of differences, often unknown, between the original and the replication. Failure to replicate does not demonstrate fraud; however, it does indicate a problem to be looked into. Sometimes fraud is detected by a careful examination of published papers revealing multiply published or doctored illustrations; more often it is uncovered by the perpetrator’s students or other members of his laboratory.

Read the complete article: Disgrace: On Marc Hauser, The Nation>>

Photo source: Scientists think that animals think. But what exactly do they think about? Harvard Gazette>>

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