Con Men of Science - Evolution News & Views

Evolution News and Views (ENV) provides original reporting and analysis about the debate over intelligent design and evolution, including breaking news about scientific research.

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Con Men of Science

Billions of dollars in public money is spent on science experiments and studies of various kinds every year -- in the United States and Europe. It is assumed -- merely assumed -- that this money is administered and spent in an objective fashion by disinterested parties. That assumption is spectacularly wrong. Scientists are no more immune to base motives and behavior than anyone else. Why think otherwise?

The New York Times, of all places, now offers evidence about a fraudulent professor, Diederik Stapels, in the Netherlands who made up data to support studies he reported in scholarly journals. The conclusions he reached were always in the service of conventional wisdom, so they escaped scrutiny.

What do you do if you need grants in the "business" of science, as Stapels calls it, and your hard work doesn't always yield the results you expect -- and want? In one case, "and others like it," Staples

had the choice of abandoning the work or redoing the experiment. But he had already spent a lot of time on the research and was convinced his hypothesis was valid. "I said -- you know what, I am going to create the data set," he told me.

Sitting at his kitchen table in Groningen, he began typing numbers into his laptop that would give him the outcome he wanted.

It is hardly ever acknowledged in the media that this happens. So the major Times story by Yudhijit Battacharjee is significant.

Here's my question: Do you think this kind of thing ever happens in the context of studies on evolution? How carefully scrutinized are those studies?