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Author Topic:   Harvard Researcher May Have Fabricated Data
Member (Idle past 269 days)
Posts: 7789
From: Manchester, UK
Joined: 05-01-2005

Message 10 of 65 (577571)
08-29-2010 4:46 PM
Reply to: Message 9 by Taz
08-29-2010 4:05 PM

I believe his students first raised concerns about some of his conclusions by writing a letter. Then Harvard began an internal investigation, found evidence of misconduct under Federation of American Scientists' regulation and are now cooperating with the Mass. District Attorney's office in their investigation (federal funds were used).

Clear evidence of secular atheistic cabal of elite who will go to any lengths to cover up the Great Lie that morality can exist without God 'because monkeys can be moral'. A point that Balderdash has cunningly* pointed out.

I have referenced some of Hauser's work (though I don't think anything where he was lead author) here at EvC so I'm rather interested in the outcome of this one.

He has so far admitted to 'mistakes', but has not admitted to misconduct.

Here is a bit about the Editor in chief of Cognition, the journal that published the paper:

In a statement, Altmann clarified for us what was missing in the videotapes.

In the 2002 Cognition paper, Hauser and his colleagues reportedly trained cotton-top tamarins to recognize two different “grammars”. These grammars were patterns in the sequence of syllables, for instance “wi wi di” (AAB) vs. “le we we” (ABB). One group of monkeys was trained on the first pattern, and the other group trained on the second pattern.

The investigators then played these sounds on a hidden loudspeaker, and watched the monkeys to see if they turned to look in the direction of the sound more often when they heard a different “grammar” than the one to which they were accustomed. Hauser and his colleagues claimed that they did, suggesting that the monkeys were able to distinguish between two underlying grammars. But Altmann says that, according to the Harvard investigation, Hauser lacked the critical control data showing how often the monkeys turned toward the loudspeakers when hearing their familiar grammar. “Perhaps they would turn round as often if they heard anything coming from that speaker,” Altmann wrote. “The experiment as run did not allow any conclusions to be drawn regarding monkeys’ ability to distinguish between different grammatical patterns.”

And that has led Altmann to conclude that the data were likely fabricated. “I am forced to conclude that there was most likely an intention here to deceive the field,” he says. “This is, to my mind, the worst form of academic conduct.” But this is just conjecture, he adds, and Harvard’s investigation gave no explanation for the discrepancy between what was on the tapes and what was in the paper. “Perhaps, therefore, the data were not fabricated,” he allows. “But I do assume that if the investigation had uncovered a more plausible alternative explanation (and I know that the investigation was rigorous to the extreme), it would not have found Hauser guilty of scientific misconduct.”

“Simply losing your tapes isn’t misconduct,” he added in a phone interview.

* Cunning: The skill of being sly, conniving, or deceitful. Word chosen for the Baldrick reference. Cos you know, Bolder-dash, Balder-rick and so on.

Edited by Modulous, : No reason given.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 9 by Taz, posted 08-29-2010 4:05 PM Taz has not yet responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 11 by Bolder-dash, posted 08-29-2010 7:23 PM Modulous has responded

Member (Idle past 269 days)
Posts: 7789
From: Manchester, UK
Joined: 05-01-2005

Message 21 of 65 (577705)
08-30-2010 5:32 AM
Reply to: Message 11 by Bolder-dash
08-29-2010 7:23 PM

Surely you are not also going to claim that because a guy lie and cheated, and was caught by a major university, and they actually did something about it, that this is a great badge of honor for the scientific community are you?

I am not going to claim that because a guy lied and cheated this is a great badge of honour for the scientific community.

That a guy lied and cheated is almost an inevitability in any human endevour. It is neither an honour nor is it necessarily a stain on on science. It's to be expected.

What I am, and what others have likewise claimed, is that 'honour' is gained in the method of handling cheats.

There is no honour in football where one player assaults another. There is honour in football when a player is sent to prison, given a playing ban, and a hefty fine for assaulting an opponent during a game.

The Catholic church also punished a few priests you know?

From what I can tell, the main executive branch of the Catholic Church has gone out of its way for thousands of years to avoid looking bad by whatever means necessary. Prosecute the occasional transgressor, move a transgressor to another location in another case, bribe/threaten the victims in yet another, commit mass slaughter in another, torture in yet another, book burnings, legal wranglings, etc etc This does not strike me as being a particularly honourable way to deal with things.

I wonder what you think would be evidence for some LACK of ethics in the scientific community-if they never caught anyone cheating?

No - that would be suspicious in its own right! Evidence would include things like concerns about ethics are raised by small groups and individuals who are sufficiently close to detect them - which are denied, ignored, glossed over etc by scientific institutions.

BTW, Freud was never rebuffed, or discredited. He is still widely regarded today by many in the scientific community.

Freudian theory is now, at this point of time, extremely controversial and there is a lot of well-known criticisms and attacks on Freud. This is just actually an excellent book on The Memory Wars by Frederick Crews, which--and Frederick Crews is one of the strongest and most passionate critics of Freud. And the problems with Freud go like this. There are two ways you could reject a theory. There are two problems with the scientific theory. One way you could reject a theory is that it could be wrong. So, suppose I have a theory that the reason why some children have autism, a profound developmental disorder, is because their mothers don't love them enough. This was a popular theory for many years. It's a possible theory. It just turns out to be wrong but another way--And so one way to attack and address a scientific theory is to view it as just to see whether or not it works. But there's a different problem a theory could have. A theory could be so vague and all encompassing that it can't even be tested. And this is one of the main critiques of Freud. The idea could be summed up by a quotation from the physicist Wolfgang Pauli. And Pauli was asked his opinion about another physicist. And Pauli said this: "That guy's work is crap. He's not right. He's not even wrong." And the criticism about Freud is that he's not even wrong.

The issue of vagueness is summarized in a more technical way by the philosopher Karl Popper who described--who introduced the term of falsifiability. The idea of falsifiability is that what distinguishes science from non science is that scientific predictions make strong claims about the world and these claims are of a sort that they could be proven wrong. If they couldn't be proven wrong, they're not interesting enough to be science. So, for example, within psychology the sort of claims we'll be entertaining throughout the course include claims like, damage to the hippocampus causes failures of certain sorts of memory, or everywhere in the world men on average want to have more sexual partners than women, or exposure to violent television tends to make children themselves more violent. Now, are they true or are they false? Well, we'll talk about that, but the point here is they can be false. They're interesting enough that they can be tested and as such they go to--they might be wrong but they graduate to the level of a scientific theory.


Arguably, Freud fails the test because Freudian theory is often so vague and flexible that it can't really be tested in any reliable way. A big problem with this is a lot of Freudian theory is claimed to be validated in the course of psychoanalysis. So, when you ask people, "Why do you believe in Freud?" they won't say, "Oh, because of this experiment, that experiment, this data set and that data set." What they'll say is, "It's--The Freudian theory proves itself in the course of psychoanalysis – the success of psychoanalysis." But it's unreliable. The problem is, say, Freud says to a patient, "You hate your mother." The patient says, "Wow. That makes sense." Freud says, "I'm right." The patient--Freud says, "You hate your mother," and the patient says, "No, I don't. That's titillating. That's disgusting." Freud says, "Your anger shows this idea is painful to you. You have repressed it from consciousness. I am right."
And the problem is the same sort of dynamic plays itself out even in the scientific debate back and forth. So Freud--Freudian psychologists--I'm putting Freud here but what I mean is well-known defenders of Freud will make some claims like: adult personality traits are shaped by the course of psychosexual development; all dreams are disguised wish fulfillment; psychoanalysis is the best treatment for mental disorders. Scientists will respond, "I disagree. There's little or no evidence supporting those claims." And the Freudian response is, "Your rejection of my ideas shows that they are distressing to you. This is because I am right." And this is often followed up, seriously enough. "You have deep psychological problems."
And now, I don't want to caricature Freudians. A lot of Freudians have tried and made a research program of extending their ideas scientifically, bringing them to robust scientific tests. But the problem is, when you make specific falsifiable predictions they don't always do that well. So, for instance, there's no evidence that oral and anal characteristics, the personality characteristics I talked about – about being needy versus being stingy – relate in any interesting way to weaning or toilet training.


...the truth is Freudian psychoanalysis is almost never studied inside psychology departments. Not the cognitive or developmental side, not the clinical side. There are some exceptions but, for the most part, even the people who do study Freud within psychology departments do so critically. Very few of them would see themselves as a psychoanalytic practitioner or as a Freudian psychologist.
Freud lives on both in a clinical setting and in the university but Freud at Yale, for instance, is much more likely to be found in the history department or the literature department than in the psychology department. And this is typical enough but, despite all of the, sort of, sour things I just said about Freud, the big idea, the importance of the dynamic unconscious, remains intact.

From Lecture 3, Introduction to psychology, Prof Paul Bloom: Professor of Psychology at Yale University. Sorry, you were saying something about Freud never have been rebuffed or discredited and how the scientific community holds him in high regard?

I guess no students ever wrote a letter demanding action about his fraudulent behavior.

To what fraudulent behaviour are you referring?

Funny though, Modelmiss.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 11 by Bolder-dash, posted 08-29-2010 7:23 PM Bolder-dash has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 25 by Bolder-dash, posted 08-30-2010 7:48 AM Modulous has responded

Member (Idle past 269 days)
Posts: 7789
From: Manchester, UK
Joined: 05-01-2005

Message 29 of 65 (577748)
08-30-2010 9:25 AM
Reply to: Message 25 by Bolder-dash
08-30-2010 7:48 AM

You completely missed the point about Freud. Freud falsified data. He completely made things up, and he created false patients. He was a fraud.

How did I miss the point? I asked you want examples of fraud you were referring to, that's all.

The people who are discussing his ideas are not condemning him because of his falsified data, they are condemning his ideas-ideas which people are still aware of even to this day, 70 years after his life.

Indeed. That's because his ideas are far more interesting than than that. But my point was that your statement:

BTW, Freud was never rebuffed, or discredited. He is still widely regarded today by many in the scientific community.

Is false. Because he was, and is as demonstrated.

But I must once again correct you: Many people are discussing not only Freud's unfalsifiable theories but the cases that he claimed he had cured (when he hadn't). Which, as Dr A tried to alert you to, is how you know it is true.

you are aware of Freud because of his fame within the world of psychology, and are apparently are not even aware of his instances of falsified data.

His infamy, more accurately, I'm afraid. As I have demonstrated - within Psychology, Freud is largely ignored as irrelevant in most ways. His fame outside of the academic arena is largely not down to the act of 'science'. Freud courted the public and his ideas captured the public's imagination and famous jokes surrounding his work have cemented his identity in our consciousness.

99.9% of people who know about Freud would only be able at best to give a halting account of the Oedipus complex and the anal/oral stages and stuff. But that's because they're so outrageous they stick in one's memory quite well.

That right there shows that the "scientific community" is not vigorous in its self-policing because of some great ethical commitment.

So let me get this straight. A person falsified their data to conform their unfalsifiable theories which science wouldn't accept even if it were true does it matter that they falsified their data? Their theory is hopeless anyway!

For his original ideas of non-conscious events, for example, he is celebrated. For the clinical results of psychoanalysis: Not so much.

Likewise, as archaeologist pointed out, it was not the great scientific community that uncovered his fraud, it was the students!

I find it funny that you give archaeologist 'credit' for pointing this out. Presumably you refer to Message 22. One assumes you didn't really read Message 10 in which my opening paragraph goes:

I believe his students first raised concerns about some of his conclusions by writing a letter. Then Harvard began an internal investigation, found evidence of misconduct under Federation of American Scientists' regulation and are now cooperating with the Mass. District Attorney's office in their investigation (federal funds were used).

Nevertheless, a Professor's students are very much part of the scientific community. Indeed, much of the grunt work of the paper would probably have been carried out by his students - so they are often the best people to raise the concerns in the first place.

How in the world can anyone try to use this as evidence of the great moral code of science? That's utterly ridiculous.

What happens when concerns are raised by people about creationists? They are apologised for, excused - or supported with vitriol and anger agaisnt the 'rabid atheists'. Those claiming fraud are likened to Hitler and any other distraction techniques.

Compare what Harvard did - launch a vigorous internal investigation - find problems, sanction the scientist, alert the Feds and release a press release. They didn't try and cover it up.

One shows integrity. The other shows cowardice.

What would you teach your children? To own up to mistakes and take steps to rectify them? Or to lie, deceive, dig ones heels and and refuse to accept mistakes?

This message is a reply to:
 Message 25 by Bolder-dash, posted 08-30-2010 7:48 AM Bolder-dash has not yet responded

Member (Idle past 269 days)
Posts: 7789
From: Manchester, UK
Joined: 05-01-2005

Message 51 of 65 (577925)
08-31-2010 5:15 AM
Reply to: Message 47 by archaeologist
08-31-2010 4:25 AM

It's not a way to detect frauds

actually it is and we can do so without losing 8, 12, 40 years.

If only things were so simple. Does monkeys spotting grammar patterns contradict the Bible? If it doesn't - then your method is useless for this case (and indeed 99% of all other cases I'd wager).

This message is a reply to:
 Message 47 by archaeologist, posted 08-31-2010 4:25 AM archaeologist has not yet responded

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