<< News Scan | Main | Another DP First for Ohio? -- NOT >>


Fake Studies

| 0 Comments
The Broken Windows Theory, famously advanced by our friends and advisors James Q. Wilson and George Kelling, contends that disorder in society, the small stuff, leads to higher rates of more serious crime.

In the Netherlands, Diederik Stapel of Tilburg University compiled data showing a connection between disorder and prejudice.  That's an interesting variation.  There is just one small problem with his data, though.  He made it up.

Joel Achenbach has this post at the WaPo.  Ewen Callaway of Nature magazine has this article, reprinted by Scientific American.

"We have some 30 papers in peer-reviewed journals where we are actually sure that they are fake, and there are more to come," says Pim Levelt, chair of the committee that investigated Stapel's work at the university.
How does outright fakery survive the review process? It's not like there weren't any red flags.

The data were also suspicious, the report says: effects were large; missing data and outliers were rare; and hypotheses were rarely refuted. Journals publishing Stapel's papers did not question the omission of details about where the data came from. "We see that the scientific checks and balances process has failed at several levels," Levelt says.
Probably the reviewers aren't looking for signs of fakery.  They are looking for shoddy methodology or unsupported causal inferences.  There have been enough instances like this, though, that maybe they should start looking.

Is this a crime?  Maybe.

At a press conference, Tilburg University's rector, Philip Eijlander, said that he would pursue criminal prosecution of Stapel. The committee is also producing a list of tainted papers to guide co-authors and journal publishers in what will probably be a long list of retractions.
Could it be a crime in the United States?  Is there a constitutional right to lie?  Stay tuned for the Stolen Valor Act case, United States v. Alvarez.

Leave a comment

Monthly Archives