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A Question Of Interpretation

The essay by Lawrence Cranberg on plagiarism in science in the Opinion section of The Scientist (Feb. 3, 1992, page 11) provides a splendid example of another problem that often arises in science ethics: How does one distinguish between willful misinterpretation of data to support a preconception and interpretations that are merely illogical? Cranberg refers to an American Association for the Advancement of Science survey that asked: "Should there be established procedures to deal with cases

Robert Park
The essay by Lawrence Cranberg on plagiarism in science in the Opinion section of The Scientist (Feb. 3, 1992, page 11) provides a splendid example of another problem that often arises in science ethics: How does one distinguish between willful misinterpretation of data to support a preconception and interpretations that are merely illogical?

Cranberg refers to an American Association for the Advancement of Science survey that asked: "Should there be established procedures to deal with cases of alleged plagiarism or utilization of the work of others without credit given?" According to Cranberg, 59.7 percent of the respondents said yes, 19.2 percent said no, 16.5 percent said they didn't know, and 4.5 percent declined to answer. This sampling, he says, may be the best evidence we have of the incidence of plagiarism, and he proceeds to speculate that the 40 percent who failed to answer yes "would rather not be called...

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