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Telling People What They Want To Hear—Race Bias Researcher "Falsified Data And Made Up Entire Experiments"
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November 03, 2011, 08:28 PM
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In general, the field of psychology is doing relatively well, especially compared to former contenders such as cultural anthropology. One reason is that psychologists have developed a number of quantitative tools that actually have predictive validity, such as IQ tests. 

On the other hand, there isn`t a lot of press and public demand for studies gleaning wisdom from IQ tests. Instead, there`s much demand for studies uncovering white racism, male sexism, and so forth. Not surprisingly, demand generates supply. From the New York Times: 

Fraud Case Seen as a Red Flag for Psychology Research

By BENEDICT CAREY

November 2, 2011

A well-known psychologist in the Netherlands whose work has been published widely in professional journals falsified data and made up entire experiments, an investigating committee has found. Experts say the case exposes deep flaws in the way science is done in a field, psychology, that has only recently earned a fragile respectability. 

The psychologist, Diederik Stapel, [Email him]of Tilburg University, committed academic fraud in “several dozen” published papers, many accepted in respected journals and reported in the news media, according to a report released on Monday by the three Dutch institutions where he has worked ... 

In recent years, psychologists have reported a raft of findings on race biases, brain imaging and even extrasensory perception that have not stood up to scrutiny. Outright fraud may be rare, these experts say, but they contend that Dr. Stapel took advantage of a system that allows researchers to operate in near secrecy and massage data to find what they want to find, without much fear of being challenged. ... 

In a prolific career, Dr. Stapel published papers on the effect of power on hypocrisy, on racial stereotyping and on how advertisements affect how people view themselves. Many of his findings appeared in newspapers around the world, including The New York Times, which reported in December on his study about advertising and identity. 

In a statement posted Monday on Tilburg University’s Web site, Dr. Stapel apologized to his colleagues. “I have failed as a scientist and researcher,” it read, in part. “I feel ashamed for it and have great regret.” ... 

Dr. Stapel has published about 150 papers, many of which, like the advertising study, seem devised to make a splash in the media. The study published in Science this year claimed that white people became more likely to “stereotype and discriminate” against black people when they were in a messy environment, versus an organized one. Another study, published in 2009, claimed that people judged job applicants as more competent if they had a male voice. The investigating committee did not post a list of papers that it had found fraudulent.