Confirmed Data Faker

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

Sep 7, 2012
Beth Marie Mole

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 In two unpublished experiments in which Hauser tested whether Tamarin monkeys had greater responses to certain strings of vowel and consonants than others, the ORI found that he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One of Hauser’s articles, published in the journal Cognition in 2002 (cited 46 times, according to ISI), was retracted, and two others (cited 38 and 3 times) were later corrected.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.”