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Marc “monkeys r’ us” Hauser has resigned from Harvard



Hauser was a popular professor known for his research and writing on the evolutionary underpinnings of morality and the traits that make the human mind distinct from those of other animals. He took a leave of absence after a faculty investigating committee concluded a three-year investigation — first reported last August by the Globe. But he was due to return to the university this fall, a prospect that made many of his former colleagues uncomfortable.

– Carolyn Y. Johnson, “Embattled Harvard psychology professor resigns” Boston Globe.com (July 19, 2011)

At Harvard for 18 years, Hauser was targeted by an investigation that found problems with eight papers – the accusation was fabricating data. Given the popularity of his “monkeys r’ us” theories, some suspect that the system took longer to catch up with him than it would with others. Indeed, he must have been under considerable pressure to produce data so intensely desired by so many. Possibly the last straw for many was that he was writing a book called Evilicious. The title may have been irrelevant, but it was surely unfortunate.

One shouldn’t underestimate the impact:

Hauser is a prolific researcher and public intellectual whose work sparked the public imagination. He ran a primate laboratory at Harvard and much of his research explored the abilities of cotton-top tamarin monkeys, in domains ranging from language to math. He authored the popular book, “Moral Minds,” and more than 200 scientific publications. His work was featured in news stories and on television, and he has been voted one of Harvard’s most popular professors. His scientific collaborators have included top researchers in disciplines that range from psychology to linguistics. Carolyn Y. Johnson, “Embattled Harvard psychology professor resigns” Boston Globe.com (July 19, 2011)

Some wonder whether the episode will prompt a rethinking of claims about primate cognition “just like humans.” Some of that is happening now, with the documentary on Nim Chimpsky, the sign language chimp.

See also:

When Bedtime for Bonzo was not a comedy

Slate reporter muses on Harvard’s recent evolutionary psychology scandal

Evilicious? Monkeys r’ us prof Marc Hauser barred from lecture room.

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Hat tip: Pos-Darwinista

Denyse, I'm awfully curious as to what that 3year report on Hauser actually says. I'll bet it isn't what is reported in this news report. People don't just "give up a tenured professorship" at Harvard, unless there's been some major pressure--lawsuits, scandals, etc. Except that Hauser looks so politically correct, one wonders what could possibly trigger a lawsuit that couldn't more easily be "covered up". Laboratory malfeasance happens all the time, but it doesn't destroy tenure. Look at David Baltimore's case, where he got off with a slap to the wrist and a promotion. So whatever it was, Hauser decided to resign rather than undergo censure, and we'll all have to wait 3 years for the real scoop. On the other hand, is it not amusing that such a simple tenet of Darwinism (man's mind is just an advanced ape's) required manipulating the data to prove? If that is so hard to show, what about all the truly difficult parts of Darwin--the eye just (un-super) naturally developed from a sun-burned piece of skin? Right now I have only pity for Hauser, whose zeal for the house of Darwin has been more than sufficiently punished by the high-priests of Darwin, despite the incense, the incantations, the 18 years of indoctrinating students, the long hours of writing papers, the talks, the meetings, the duties of passing on the faith. A crisis of faith, that's what it is. Robert Sheldon

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