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Borsboom and Wagenmakers reviews Stapels Derailed.

January 5, 2013

Well, Stapel’s autobiography has been reviewed, by Denny Borsboom and Erik-Jan Wagenmakers. I appreciate them taking the bullet for the rest of us – kind of necessary since it is only in Dutch. I won’t be reading it, even if they would translate it. I have an abhorrence for train-wrecks (reality TV induces a particular odd nausea in me, a mix of the feeling of sucking on a long since sucked ice-cream stick, and extreme fardo). Some Social Psychologist I am.

Of course, as others have pointed out (we are, after all, all psychologists), you have to take the self-disclosure account with a grain of salt, with all the self-presentation issues that exists.

Interesting though, with him actually writing about his experience (apart from the completely angry cynical gut response I have – shared with others – that it is his attempt again to get into the spotlight, which got him in trouble in the first place). There has been a number of fraud or accused of fraud cases in various areas. How do people respond? Marc Hauser seems to have responses with not admitting (although leaving), so we have no clue about what happened there. When I read Plastic Fantastic, the sense I got from the Author that there was no real admission, and even suggestions that he wanted to get back in science again, and no clear understanding how he was thinking. It could be interesting, for someone who has a toolbox that is more historical/qualitative than me, to go and look at fraud cases and look at how the persons have explained (or not) themselves.

Makes me also think of a couple of cases where, in the end… well, I don’t know. I read about the Baltimore Case many years back – in our intro grad student course on how to be grad students/researchers our prof had brought that up when we were discussing scientific conduct.

I later got that book I linked (Daniel Kevles, the Baltimore case). The esearcherw accused were exonerated. It became, what it looks like, a big circus. In the end, what happened seemed very unclear, and (in my recall, since it is over 10 years I re-read it), a sense that it was a clash between the ideals and how science actually is practiced.

There was also the case of Justine Sergent. I had read some of her papers on the lateral processing of expressive cases. I later found out that she had committed suicide, but the net were not as all penetrating then as it is now, and I never found out why, except a hint that there was jealousy and sexism behind it.  Perhaps.

I did find the case later, when the Stapel case broke. Evidently she had been accused of misconduct. Nothing seems to be open and clear about it. She (and her husband) committed suicide over it.

So, as annoyed as I am with the little scape-goat trick the Levelt report did on Social Psychology (the issue here is in part that scape-goating, apart from hurting the scape goat, also protects the rest from investigation, and really, there are problematic practices all over), I do appreciate the openness.

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One Comment
  1. Reblogged this on Ambitious Women in the Academic World and commented:

    Boordsboim and Wagematers reviewed Stapels Autobiography of the fraud. Worth reading. Plus, then I muse some on fraud and fraudsters and non-frauds…

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