Monthly Archives: August 2010

Journal editor’s conclusion: Hauser fabricated data

Jeff Neal, a spokesman for Harvard, said in an e-mail, “We are pleased that we have worked directly and effectively with the editors of the effected journals, including Cognition, to ensure that the scientific record is fully corrected. … And short of court or the university, it can hardly get worse than to have that conclusion reached by the editor of a major journal — someone with cred to protect, a lot of experience, and a privileged look at the data in question.

Royal incest: the arguments for

The magazine wanted to put this rather shocking news in context, so they asked me to write about why incestuous marriages and matings have not been terribly uncommon among royalty through the ages — or, as the article’s subtitle puts it, “Why King Tut’s family was not the only royalty tohave close relations among its close relations. ” 650 words or less. … Matings between close relatives can raise the danger that harmful recessive genes, especially if combined repeatedly through generations, will match up in the offspring, leading to elevated chances of health or developmental problems—perhaps Tut’s partially cleft palate and congenitally deformed foot or Charles’s small stature and impotence.

Hauser & Harvard speak; labmates & collaborators cleared

I lack time to treat them at any length, but the biggies were: • Harvard released a statement that provided a few specifics, most important being that Marc Hauser ” was found solely responsible, after a thorough investigation by a faculty investigating committee, for eight instances of scientific misconduct under FAS standards.” … It’s good to see that Harvard has answered at least the most vital and immediate of these problems, which is the doubt cast on other lab members and collaborators.

Updated: This Hauser thing is getting hard to watch

let me repeat what happened. i coded everything. then [a research assistant] coded all the trials highlighted in yellow. we only had one trial that didn’t agree. i then mistakenly told [another research assistant] to look at column B when he should have looked at column D. … we need to resolve this because i am not sure why we are going in circles.” … The gist of the information is that, as appropriate to good practice, the protocol was originally designed to blind (or deafen) coders to the monkeys’ stimulus, so that the coder would merely observe a monkey in each trial, with the sound off and no knowledge of which pattern was being played, and score the monkey’s changes in behavior.

Goldacre: Drug companies who hide research are unfit to experiment on people

Doctors and academics – who should feel optimism at working with the drug companies to develop new treatments – feel nausea instead, knowing that there are only informal systems to deal with buried data, and these have clearly failed. In 2005 the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors put its foot down and said its journals would only publish trials that were fully registered before they started, which should make any that went missing much easier to spot.

Hauser update: Report done since JANUARY

But if any data has been fabricated, a cloud will be cast over all or much of his work, and that of his many collaborators, leaving other researchers unsure as to which of his experiments can be relied on. … Wade’s story — both solid and artful — ends with a painful quote from Hauser, who was reflecting in 2007 on a mentor he had: “Only once can I recall Peter giving me an explicit bit of advice, and this is when my impulsivity was getting the best of me,” Dr.

Hauser wake cont’d: Could the hivemind prevent fraud & misconduct?

But if this case is anywhere near this serious — if multiple former students are accusing Hauser of outright fabrication, or if many others in the discipline have harbored grave doubts about the integrity of the data — then this case turns us back to the perennial question of how to curb such shenanigans.

…The key to the Alzheimer’s project was an agreement as ambitious as its goal: not just to raise money, not just to do research on a vast scale, but also to share all the data, making every single finding public immediately, available to anyone with a computer anywhere in the world.