Separate names with a comma.
Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Peter Kline, Sep 25, 2002.
This is how science is supposed to be conducted...if nobody can duplicate the result, find out what the original experimenter was doing. In this case, he was caught forging the data!
Thank goodness for peer review. I wish all human societies would work that way, but it ain't gonna happen...a bunch of anthropologists, sociologists, and evolutionary biologists agree on that at least.
What drives people to do this? They have to know that, eventually, someone is going to want to replicate their faked data. Sure, I could build myself up as a respected scientist and then make an extraordinary claim about some progress, complete with data. I'd be famous, everyone would think I was "cool", but sooner or later someone else is going to say, "Hey, Ryan's amazing new device will handle this! Let's get his data and build one."
Then I'd be screwed.
Are people really this dumb?
This individual probably got caught up in the "publish or perish" syndrome. I am a chemist, and when I was in grad. school, I saw some young professors under a lot of pressure to publish. These professors took great measures to get publishable results, but they never crossed the line by submitting false data for publication. Taking great measures involved turning the screws on grad. students to work hard, think through their experiments, and work efficiently. That was it.
The guy at Bell Labs either never took a course in GLP or slept through it.
Keith, I agree that in some cases it's 'publish or perish', but in other instances it can be less easily defined. In my own field (psychology) the classic case is Sir Cyril Burt, a very eminent British psychologist who after his death was discovered to have falsified a famous set of studies supposedly 'proving' that intelligence was principally genetically inherited. What makes the case baffling is that most of the papers were published after Burt was in semi-retirement and was already (justly) famous as a pioneer in his field. In other words, his career wasn't dependent on publishing, and indeed he could have retired fully without any loss of status. Nobody has ever really worked out why he did it.
It occasionally happens, although I'm surprised it occurs in a field where it is easy to replicate the data.
Anyone remember Michael Bellesiles? The Emory University professor who falsified his research on colonial gun culture? He's currently taking a semester off while Emory investigates his research and decides what to do with him.
It occasionally happens. The good news is that someone out there went to the trouble to duplicate their work and found out. Better now than later!
I think the problem is that some of the research requires a huge investment in equipment and personnel before an experiment can be verified. And when a large amount of funds is needed, huge pressure for positive results is generated. It kinda worries me that now you need a multimillion dollar grant (from the private sector commonly enough!) nowadays. The temptation to forge results is greater than ever...you don't want to piss of your sponsor!
This is why I'm pinning my hopes on animal/human behavioral research. They are chronically underfunded, but that ensures the researchers aren't as worried about the results for fear of losing a grant.
For that matter, amateur astronomers are also doing incredible work. They are making their observations for the love of it, not the money!
But I still remain the optimist...
What kind of projects/research are you involved in, Keith?