More Evidence for Hauser's Scientific Misconduct


Faculty of Arts and Sciences Dean Michael D. Smith has publicly confirmed that psychology professor Marc D. Hauser is responsible for eight instances of scientific misconduct. Although the dean did not specify what exactly Hauser’s fate will be, Smith did say that the University will definitely be imposing sanctions on Hauser, who is now on a year-long leave of absence.

Need more evidence than that? Well, here it is: in a document released to the Chronicle of Higher Education, one of Hauser's former research assistants outlined how he and his peers became convinced that Hauser was up to some monkey business.

The document, a copy of the assistant’s statement (given in 2007) to the faculty committee investigating Hauser, offers a first glimpse into what was actually amiss in Hauser’s laboratory. University officials have continued to remain mum about the specific allegations of misconduct discovered during their three-year investigation.

Hauser’s research involved gauging monkeys’ ability to understand sound patterns, which is seen as a stepping-stone to language acquisition. In one experiment, Hauser and a research assistant separately noted how the same laboratory monkeys were reacting to a pattern of tones.  When a third assistant analyzed these observations, Hauser’s data appeared to show that the monkeys were able to notice changes in the pattern—but the other set of data pointed to no such effect.

The third assistant, along with others in the lab, suggested that the data be double-checked. Hauser apparently refused.

“i [sic] am getting a bit pissed here,” he wrote in one e-mail. “There were no inconsistencies!”

But this was untrue, as a review of the videotaped monkeys—conducted without Hauser’s knowledge by a graduate student and the assistant who analyzed the data—would later show.

Click here to read more of the Chronicle of Higher Education's analysis of the assistant's statement.

For more updates on Hauser, check

Photo by Polina Bartik/The Harvard Crimson.

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