Human nature being what it is, this kind of thing is never surprising. But in a culture where the "sexy" stories sell there will always be pressure to produce more of the sexy stories. And add to that the fact that humanity seems to be utterly clueless about what it means to be human these days, well, then this is bound to keep happening, especially in the soft sciences.
Every branch of science has its share of "sexy" studies—so called for their supposed tendency to provoke media attention, even in the absence of strong or conclusive findings—but investigations in the field of social psychology are often especially popular targets of the "sexy" label.
Now, prominent social psychologist Diederik Stapel (who earlier this year reported that something as trivial as litter can promote discriminatory behavior) has been outed as one of the biggest frauds in scientific history. Will social psychology be able to recover?
A preliminary investigative report issued on Monday by Tilburg University has concluded that dozens of research papers authored and co-authored by Stapel contain fabricated data.
"We have some 30 papers in peer-reviewed journals where we are actually sure that they are fake, and there are more to come," says Pim Levelt, chair of the committee that investigated Stapel's work. If all of these papers are withdrawn, Stapel's will become one of the worst cases of scientific misconduct in history.
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HT: Strange Herring