<< Chapter < Page Chapter >> Page >


The widespread misuse and misrepresentation of statistical information often gives the field a bad name. Some say that “numbers don’t lie,” but the people who use numbers to support their claims often do.

A recent investigation of famous social psychologist, Diederik Stapel, has led to the retraction of his articles from some of the world’s top journals including Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, Social Psychology, Basic and Applied Social Psychology, British Journal of Social Psychology, and the magazine Science . Diederik Stapel is a former professor at Tilburg University in the Netherlands. Over the past two years, an extensive investigation involving three universities where Stapel has worked concluded that the psychologist is guilty of fraud on a colossal scale. Falsified data taints over 55 papers he authored and 10 Ph.D. dissertations that he supervised.

Stapel did not deny that his deceit was driven by ambition. But it was more complicated than that, he told me. He insisted that he loved social psychology but had been frustrated by the messiness of experimental data, which rarely led to clear conclusions. His lifelong obsession with elegance and order, he said, led him to concoct sexy results that journals found attractive. “It was a quest for aesthetics, for beauty—instead of the truth,” he said. He described his behavior as an addiction that drove him to carry out acts of increasingly daring fraud, like a junkie seeking a bigger and better high. Yudhijit Bhattacharjee, “The Mind of a Con Man,” Magazine, New York Times, April 26, 2013. Available online at: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/28/magazine/diederik-stapels-audacious-academic-fraud.html?src=dayp&_r=2&(accessed May 1, 2013).

The committee investigating Stapel concluded that he is guilty of several practices including:

  • creating datasets, which largely confirmed the prior expectations,
  • altering data in existing datasets,
  • changing measuring instruments without reporting the change, and
  • misrepresenting the number of experimental subjects.

Clearly, it is never acceptable to falsify data the way this researcher did. Sometimes, however, violations of ethics are not as easy to spot.

Researchers have a responsibility to verify that proper methods are being followed. The report describing the investigation of Stapel’s fraud states that, “statistical flaws frequently revealed a lack of familiarity with elementary statistics.” “Flawed Science: The Fraudulent Research Practices of Social Psychologist Diederik Stapel,” Tillburg University, November 28, 2012, http://www.tilburguniversity.edu/upload/064a10cd-bce5-4385-b9ff-05b840caeae6_120695_Rapp_nov_2012_UK_web.pdf (accessed May 1, 2013). Many of Stapel’s co-authors should have spotted irregularities in his data. Unfortunately, they did not know very much about statistical analysis, and they simply trusted that he was collecting and reporting data properly.

Many types of statistical fraud are difficult to spot. Some researchers simply stop collecting data once they have just enough to prove what they had hoped to prove. They don’t want to take the chance that a more extensive study would complicate their lives by producing data contradicting their hypothesis.

Questions & Answers

What is significance of vector?
jagan Reply
what is impulse?
Enimini Reply
the product of force and time
find the flow rate of a fluid of viscosity 0.0015N-s/m³ flowing through a pipe of radius 50cm and length 100m at a pressure differential of 200000N/m²
Okoli Reply
friend ,what is the equation your question
What is victor
Moses Reply
How are you all?
Giorgi Reply
what is the formula for momentum?
Chisom Reply
what is the formula for angular displacement ?
angular displacement = l/r
friend ,what is the " l "?
I have another problem,what is the difference between pure chemistry and applied chemistry ?
l stands for linear displacement and l>>r
r stands for radius or position vector of particle
pure chemistry is related to classical and basic concepts of chemistry while applied Chemistry deals with it's application oriented concepts and procedures.
what is the deference between precision and accuracy?
I think in general both are same , more accuracy means more precise
and lessor error
friends,how to find correct applied chemistry notes?
what are the main concepts of applied chemistry ?
anand,can you give an example for angular displacement ?
when any particle rotates or revolves about something , an axis or point ,then angle traversed is angular displacement
like a revolving fan
yeah ,I understood now, thanks!
o need this application in French language
Diacre Reply
Why is it that the definition is not there
what is physics
mesfin Reply
the study of matter in relation to energy
Ampher law
how do convert acceleration
Idrees Reply
multiply by 3.6
a man drops a rock into a wall
Aye Reply
how did John Dalton contribute to A.theory?
Atomic theory,
according to John Dalton all the matter was composed of atom and indivisible, indestructible building blocks. while the atom of different elements have different mass and size.
two parallel wires are 5.80cm apart and carry currents in opposite direction , as shown in figure .find the magnitude and direction of the magnetic field at point p due to two 1.50mm segments of wire that are opposite each other and each 8.00 cm from p.
Alia Reply
solve it
give me its solution
where is divergence law
Roha Reply
the formula velocity tell me
in electrostatics
total heat of substance known as
Twinkle Reply
total substance known as?
what is reference?
Tirtha Reply
what is avector
Law Reply
pretty much just a line with an arrow that represents the magnitude and direction of a quantity.
vector is quantity, that has magnitude and direction
Got questions? Join the online conversation and get instant answers!
Jobilize.com Reply

Get the best Algebra and trigonometry course in your pocket!

Source:  OpenStax, Statistics i - math1020 - red river college - version 2015 revision a - draft 2015-10-24. OpenStax CNX. Oct 24, 2015 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11891/1.8
Google Play and the Google Play logo are trademarks of Google Inc.

Notification Switch

Would you like to follow the 'Statistics i - math1020 - red river college - version 2015 revision a - draft 2015-10-24' conversation and receive update notifications?