Items of General Interest
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April 28, 2013:NY Times Sunday Magazine: The Mind of a Con Man
- "Diederik Stapel, a Dutch social psychologist, perpetrated an audacious academic fraud by making up studies that told the world what it wanted to hear about human nature"
- For anyone involved in scientific research, there is a term called "dry lab": Where a student or researcher is too lazy to actually make measurements they create fake ones to mimic 'reality'.
In today's computer intensive world, these "dry lab" results are getting easier to detect: the world is a random place so measured data better have some random scatter or there may be something wrong. Also, if the "random scatter" has a certain regularity to it, well then that is another indicator of possible issues.
So how could someone get away with a multi-year con job of faking data in our computer intensive day and age?
- From the article:
- The data in Stapel's lab looked too good: an observer was struck by how great the data looked, no matter the experiment "even the best people have studies that fail constantly. Usually, half don't work". That simple observation started the investigation which finally brought the fraud into the light and Stapel's career crashing to a halt.
For more information and a very interesting article, please see:The Mind of a Con Man