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Thursday, July 16, 2015

Can a Longtime Fraud Help Fix Science?

Diederik Stapel faked more than 50 studies in social psychology. What can we learn from his misdeeds?

By Tom Bartlett
The Chronicle of Higher Education
June 22, 2015

Diederik Stapel was once known as a clever, prolific social psychologist. The Dutch researcher’s studies on subjects like unconscious stereotyping and the effect of environment on emotion aimed to explain the strangeness of human behavior. Why do we do what we do? How can a deeper understanding of our motivations lead to a better, more humane world?

Now Stapel is known for perpetrating one of science’s most audacious frauds. Since 2011, when his fakery was first exposed, more than 50 of Stapel’s papers have been retracted. He made up data for dozens of studies he never conducted. The extent of his deceit is jaw-dropping, and his downfall felt like an indictment of the field.

I thought of Stapel recently when news broke about a heralded young political-science researcher named Michael LaCour, who had apparently faked data for a high-profile study of gay marriage. Like Stapel, he was able to fool colleagues for years. Like Stapel, his lies cast doubt on the safeguards in science.

The entire story is here.

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