2011's biggest scandals in science

The Scientist magazine has put out their list of the top science scandals of 2011. I'm not normally a huge fan of overblown scandal recaps, but this particular one is interesting, I think, because it gives laypeople a peek into some major stories that many non-scientists probably haven't heard much about.

For instance, number one on their list is the strange case of Diederik Stapel, former head of the Institute for Behavioral Economics Research in the Netherlands. Stapel did social psychology research, publishing media-bait studies that were contrarian and inflammatory to some, and highly supportive of other people's deeply held beliefs about the world. For instance, back in August, Stapel and a colleague put out a press release about some not-yet-published data suggesting that people who eat meat are selfish and anti-social.

Then, in August, Stapel's career began to unravel. Accused of plagiarism and fabricating data, he was fired and, one by one, papers of his are being retracted by the journals that published them. A preliminary report by his former employers found that 30 of his research papers were based on faked data. A deeper report, which will review everything Stapel has ever written—130 papers and 24 book chapters—is ongoing.

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