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Science culture: Most academic psychologists cut corners with data?


Remember that major Dutch researcher who made up all kinds of data for studies, some in prominent journals? In “Fraud Case Seen as a Red Flag for Psychology Research” (New York Times, November 2, 2011), Benedict Carey reports,

In a recent survey, two-thirds of Dutch research psychologists said they did not make their raw data available for other researchers to see. “This is in violation of ethical rules established in the field,” Dr. Wicherts said.

In a survey of more than 2,000 American psychologists scheduled to be published this year, Leslie John of Harvard Business School and two colleagues found that 70 percent had acknowledged, anonymously, to cutting some corners in reporting data. About a third said they had reported an unexpected finding as predicted from the start, and about 1 percent admitted to falsifying data.

Also common is a self-serving statistical sloppiness.

Interesting too, how some people picked the occasion to be angry with media for revealing this stuff. They should save their anger for those who front headline-grabbing nonsense that collapses later. This is a serious scandal, was a long time developing, and points to flaws in our current science culture that media have certainly catered to but could not have created.

Put another way: Writing “A Novel” under the title of some research papers might be a start, accompanied by “No part of this work of fiction represents … ”

of related interest,
Anti-Science Irony (Who is really anti-science?) Excerpt: In response to a letter from Asa Gray, professor of biology at Harvard University, Darwin declared: “I am quite conscious that my speculations run quite beyond the bounds of true science.” Darwin was “anti-Science”. When questioned further by Gray, Darwin confirmed Gray’s suspicions: “What you hint at generally is very, very true: that my work is grievously hypothetical, and large parts are by no means worthy of being called induction.” Darwin had turned against the use of scientific principles in developing his theory of evolution. The “Anti-Science” movement was popular in the nineteenth century, sponsored by the emerging influential members of the X Club. Darwin was very concerned about the effect of the Anti-Science approach. Just two weeks before the (re)lease of The Origin of Species, Erasmus Darwin, his brother, consoled him in a letter: “In fact, the a priori reasoning is so entirely satisfactory to me that if the facts [evidence] won’t fit, why so much the worse for the facts, in my feeling.” http://www.darwinthenandnow.com/2011/10/anti-science-irony/

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