Marc Hauser’s apologists are getting organised

Earlier posts have described a Harvard investigation led by the Dean of the Faculty of the Arts and Sciences Michael D. Smith which found Marc Hauser responsible for eight counts of scientific misconduct. Hauser has been “sentenced” to “book leave” for the year.

Some academics – together with some luke warm support from the CHE and the New York Times – seem to be starting a campaign to ease his way back into the academic world. But they give me the impression of merely being apologists. Perhaps – they say – he just made innocent mistakes. Or that the difficult subject of cognition is prone to errors. Maybe he got a raw deal! Unfortunately it all seems like a PR exercise now. Damage control and the hell with the questionable ethics of a Professor who specialises in cognition and ethics.

But it seems to me to be conveniently forgotten that he has already been found guilty – on eight counts just at Harvard. The onus of proof has shifted. The assumption must now be of guilt  – not of innocence. His work dating at least back to 1995 is suspect.

At least the Harvard Crimson is not (at least not yet) joining the circle of protective wagons beginning to form around Hauser:

Professor Hauser is set to return to campus next year after his leave is over. However, we believe that the University should implement some sort of consequence when he returns—a penalty that is on par with the severity of his actions. Although it would be helpful if Harvard would release more information on the eight counts of misconduct that it uncovered, it is likely prohibited from doing so by the regulations surrounding ongoing legal proceedings.

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One Response to “Marc Hauser’s apologists are getting organised”

  1. Samuel X Charles Says:

    All of the arguments so far are based on rumors, speculation, innuendo and supposition. Harvard has not released the details of its investigation, nor have the allegations or findings been subjected to the same tests that you want applied to Dr. Hauser’s research. The Federal Office of Research Integrity is conducting a study and once its findings are released, perhaps there will be some basis for judgment. Hauser, wisely, is not talking – nor should he – until the information supporting the allegations becomes public. All of this chatter serves no real purpose. The facts will speak for themselves, and until they come out the scientific community and Harvard will be wise to put a lid on it.

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