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“Moral Minds” author Marc Hauser makes Science’s Top Ten retractions list

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The Scientist recently published “Top Ten Retractions of 2010″ (16th December 2010), among which is

3. Cognition expert takes hard look at his data

Basically, it isn’t true that monkeys mimic human capacities. Hauser had apparently come to believe this, with bad results for himself and his lab:

Well-known psychologist and author of the book “Moral Minds” Marc Hauser is taking a year of leave from his position at Harvard University after an internal investigation found evidence of scientific misconduct. The questionable data also led to the retraction of a 2002 Cognition paper, cited 38 times, which demonstrated that, like human infants, cotton-top tamarins have the capacity to generalize patterns.

For more retractions, go here.

I suspect that contentious areas like Apes ‘R Us – where one side is lavishly supported – breed overconfidence, hence more aggressive claims, hence more frequent retraction.

More on Marc Hauser:

Wishing can make it so: Or maybe not, if this is about monkeys


So monkeys really do understand money. Well, no they don’t, but …

Evolutionary psychology: So they really don’t believe all that rot

(Note: It might be a good idea to read the notices of the other retractions, mostly relating to medical science. Again, not surprising, given the heavy emotional investment.)

Well, you know, re-traction is never quite as simple and straight-forward as mere traction. Ilion
Unfortunately, the retractions never get the publicity that the original papers do, so the falsified data lives on the public's mind, especially for widely publicized studies. There are notable exceptions here and there, of course (ie some recent global warming studies), but by-and-large retracted information never seems to quite get the traction it needs to. DonaldM

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