Confirmed Data Faker

Federal investigators find ex-Harvard professor Marc Hauser guilty of misconduct, 2 years after his colleagues did.

By | September 7, 2012

Brocken Inaglory" > Marc Hauser engaged in misconduct during research involving Tamarin monkeys (shown above)Wikimedia Commons, Brocken Inaglory

Federal investigators found that former Harvard University cognition researcher Marc Hauser “fabricated” data and “falsified” numbers, according to a notice by the Office or Research Integrity (ORI) released Wednesday (September 5). The finding comes more than a year after Hauser resigned from Harvard, and 2 years after an internal investigation at the university found Hauser solely responsible for eight counts of scientific misconduct.

Hauser, whose work includes Moral Minds, was considered a prominent figure in the fields of psychology and evolutionary linguistics. In its notice, the ORI details specific cases of misconduct by Hauser that occurred in the course of National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded research. In two unpublished experiments in which Hauser tested whether Tamarin monkeys had greater responses to certain strings of vowel and consonants than others, the ORI found that he “falsified the coding of some of the monkeys' responses, making the results statistically significant when the results coded by others showed them to be non-significant.”

One of Hauser’s articles, published in the journal Cognition in 2002 (cited 46 times, according to ISI), was retracted, and two others (cited 38 and 3 times) were later corrected.

Though he neither admits nor denies misconduct, he has entered a voluntary settlement agreement with the ORI that requires any publicly funded research he conducts in the next 3 years to be monitored by the government and his housing institution, and he must exclude himself from federal advisory roles.

In an emailed statement sent to Nature, Hauser wrote, “I let important details get away from my control, and as head of the lab, I take responsibility for all errors made within the lab, whether or not I was directly involved.”

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Avatar of: FJScientist


Posts: 52

September 7, 2012

Dr. Hauser's statement “as head of the lab, I take responsibility for all errors made within the lab" ends with "whether or not I was directly involved.â€쳌 That, together with his lament “I let important details get away from my control" is a clear indication that he doesn't take responsibility. Let's be clear, ORI found that HE fabricated data and falsified numbers. For that, his punishment is similar to some others--institutional and external monitoring of publicly-funded grants for three years (if he can obtain any).
When are we going to start charging these people for fraud and demanding repayment of the funds that went to bogus research? Perhaps we should add the standard 3-fold damages and/or garnish future earnings to repay fraudulently obtained salary over the offending years? That is making him responsible. Instead, we hear him offer empty gestures about responsibility that he doesn't seem to mean. And, if he can convince some gullible institution to hire him, he can even apply for grants still after all of this??? His other punishment is that he must exclude himself from federal advisory roles??? That begs the question about why any federal agency even would be offering him an advisory position.
We owe it to the supporters of science (the public) not to sweep these criminals under the rug. If I were an outsider looking in and seeing this 'punishment' for a serious crime, I would have serious questions about how the remainder of my (the public's) support for science is generally being used/misused. A punishment that appears to be little more than a cosmetic half-measure certainly would leave me concerned and less enthusiatic to support research in the future. The public, and the vast number of honest scientists out, there deserve better. Remeber, it is the public who decides whether to support research or not. Also remember that, for every fradulent grant he received, some more deserving research project died. As a member of the public, and as a sceintist, I don't see that the punishment in this instance and in many others befits the crime.

Avatar of: jeffery burkhart

jeffery burkhart

Posts: 1

September 7, 2012

I think his specialty was psychology rather than phycology (study of algae)....but maybe not..

Avatar of: Beth Mole

Beth Mole

Posts: 3

September 7, 2012

Thanks for catching the mistake. It's been corrected.
Thanks for reading!
~Beth Mole, The Scientist

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