I would have posted this a few days ago - as soon as I found out about it - but I've only had my internet connection activated yesterday, so here it goes.

I must say I was truly gutted to find out that Marc Hauser - evolutionary psychologist and biologist from Harvard University - had been found guilty of eight counts of scientific misconduct involving both published and unpublished studies (if you don't know what I'm talking about you can start by reading into it here). To my knowledge Harvard has not released too many details concerning the internal investigation, but data falsification appears to be one of the likely charges. I was personally devastated, not because I have any personal affinity to Marc Hauser as an individual, but because I have personal and academic stakes in the field of cognitive neuroscience and because I find its interaction with evolutionary biology to represent one of the most promising areas of scientific investigation at present. How someone can be as selfish as to act in a way that is certain to harm science's reputation and - by extension - humanity as a whole is truly beyond me. As if we didn't have enough problems with people still going on about "Climategate" and the Piltdown Man hoax.

How long do you think it'll take the Creationists to jump onto this bandwagon too?

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that is truly unfortunate, I just read his book "Moral Minds: The Nature of Right and Wrong" It was a really interesting book, but now I have to wonder about some of what he said...
How was he found out?

I ask becuase one of science's strengths is in identifying wrong or corrupt data, with a corollary of corrupted by mistake, omission or whether corrupted by intent.
I seem to remember that a few of his former doctoral students or research assistants complained about the instances of data manipulation and general misconduct.
I think that would require some testing :) unfortunately I don't know anywhere near enough about cognitive processing in chimps to provide a real answer to your question :)
Science cannot tolerate unethical and dishonest manipulation of data - not only does it effect the research of other scientist, it sullies the image of science as a reliable purveyor of truth, Further, it gives ammunition to the anti-science and fundamentalist mob. The tempest in a teapot churned up in the whole "climategate" fiasco is an example of basically a non-issue being blown up into a world wide "controversy" - it was all bullshit in the final analysis.
Didn't Mendel fudge his data?
Depends on who you ask. A few historians and a few biologists hold that view, but the fact is that Mendel's law of inheritance is only an approximation of the much more complex phenomenon of genetic inheritance. His work was still a pivotal event in the development of biology and genetics.
Do you mean that the "climategate scandal" was bullshit or that climate change is?
The "scandal" was.
On the Marc Hauser story, there's some reason to be careful before rushing to judgment (As was the case for what was called ClimateGate)

The NY Tines did an article called "Harvard Case Against Marc Hauser Is Hard to Define"
See http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/26/science/26hauser.html

Part of what it writes about is this:
last month two former colleagues, Bert Vaux and Jeffrey Watumull, both now at the University of Cambridge in England, wrote in the Harvard Crimson of Dr. Hauser’s “unimpeachable scientific integrity” and charged that his critics were “scholars known to be virulently opposed to his research program.”

Also last month his principal accuser outside of Harvard, Gerry Altmann, allowed that he may have spoken too hastily. Dr. Altmann is the editor of Cognition, a psychology journal in which Dr. Hauser published an article said by Harvard to show scientific misconduct.

When first shown evidence by Harvard for this conclusion, Dr. Altmann publicly accused Dr. Hauser of fabricating data. But he now says an innocent explanation, based on laboratory error, not fraud, is possible. People should step back, he writes, and “allow due process to conclude.”

Due process, in this case, includes an independent inquiry by the Office of Research Integrity, a government agency that investigates scientific misconduct. Its inquiries take seven months on average, ranging up to eight years, says John Dahlberg, director of the agency’s investigations unit. .....
I am constantly surprised that scientists are surprised at such things. When did we develop a sense that scientists were more honest than other professions????

After having worked in academia and pharmaceutical, I have no doubt that scientists are no better than any other profession and atheists should exercise a little more skepticism in these matters. Or else we are guilty of viewing science as a religion, and that is unfortunate.
I'm not sure that I accept the hull hypothesis that scientists are just like other professionals. This is one reason it becomes a big deal even though there are few instances.

There may be some selective processes for individuals, as there is for medical schools and business schools and there may be better role models. Professional education for some of the sciences includes ethical issues and professions like Psychology are policed. There are codes of ethics at places like NIH

See "The Scientist's Code of Ethics" at http://www.nhn.ou.edu/~johnson/Education/Capstone/Ethics/1952-Scien... for an early discussion of this issue.

And we can agree that when cases like ClimateGate arise the scientists are cleared of charges and shown to be working professionally. Muddying this type of water is a danger to having science's voice heard clearly.


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