Harvard University psychologist Marc Hauser has been found guilty of research misconduct in an internal review by the Standing Committee on Professional Conduct:
Hours later, Dr. Hauser, a rising star for his explorations into cognition and morality, made his first public statement since news of the inquiry emerged last week, telling The New York Times, “I acknowledge that I made some significant mistakes” and saying he was “deeply sorry for the problems this case had caused to my students, my colleagues and my university.”
Dr. Hauser is a leader in the field of animal and human cognition, and in 2006 wrote a well-received book, “Moral Minds: How Nature Designed Our Universal Sense of Right and Wrong.” Harvard’s findings against him, if sustained, may cast a shadow over the broad field of scientific research that depended on the particular research technique often used in his experiments.
I guess our universal sense of right and wrong doesn’t include research misconduct? Whatever, a$$hole. Hey–here’s another reason to close your lab to graduate students besides the craptastic job market:
There is a wide spectrum of scientific sins, ranging from wrist-slap offenses like bad data storage at one end, to data fabrication at the other. It is still not clear where on this spectrum Dr. Hauser’s errors may fall. He has admitted only to unspecified “mistakes,” not to misconduct.
Many of his experiments involved inferring a monkey’s thoughts or expectations from its response to a sight or sound. But the technique required somewhat subjective assessments by the researcher as to whether the monkey stared longer than usual at a display or turned its head toward a loudspeaker broadcasting an unexpected sound.
At least some of Dr. Hauser’s students disagreed with his interpretation of one such experiment three years ago, and reported their reservations to the Harvard authorities in a letter that was obtained this week by The Chronicle of Higher Education. It was this letter that spurred a three-year investigation of Dr. Hauser’s work going back at least as far as 2002.
Many of you undoubtedly have more informed opinions about this kind of research and the possibilities for misconduct therein than I have, so please share them with the class. My main question is simply this: what about all of the adorable monkeys? Is anyone thinking about the monkeys?
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