Posts Tagged ‘Diedrik Stapel’

Another case of data manipulation, another Dutch psychology scandal

April 30, 2014

UPDATE!

Jens Förster denies the claims of misconduct and has sent an email defending himself to Retraction Watch.

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One would have thought the credentials of social psychology as a science – after Diedrik Staple, Dirk Smeesters and Mark Hauser – could not fall much lower. But data manipulation in social psychology would seem to be a bottomless pit.

Another case of data manipulation by social psychologists has erupted at the University of Amsterdam. This time by Jens Förster professor of social psychology at the University of Amsterdam and his colleague Markus Denzler. 

Retraction Watch: 

The University of Amsterdam has called for the retraction of a 2011 paper by two psychology researchers after a school investigation concluded that the article contained bogus data, the Dutch press are reporting.

The paper, “Sense Creative! The Impact of Global and Local Vision, Hearing, Touching, Tasting and Smelling on Creative and Analytic Thought,” was written by Jens Förster and Markus Denzler  and published in Social Psychological & Personality Science. ….

Professor Jens Förster

Jens Förster is no lightweight apparently. He is supposed to have research interests in the principles of motivation. Throughout my own career the practice of motivation in the workplace has been a special interest and I have read some of his papers. Now I feel let down. I have a theory that one of the primary motivators of social psychologists in academia is a narcissistic urge for media attention. No shortage of ego. And I note that as part of his webpage detailing his academic accomplishments he also feels it necessary to highlight his TV appearances!!!!

Television Appearances (Selection) 

Nachtcafé (SWR), Buten & Binnen (RB), Hermann & Tietjen (NDR), Euroland (SWF), Menschen der Woche (SWF), Die große Show der Naturwunder (ARD), Quarks & Co (WDR), Plasberg persönlich (WDR), Im Palais (RBB), Westart (WDR)

They love being Darlings of the media and the media oblige!

As a commenter on Retraction Watch points out, Förster also doubles as a cabaret artist! Perhaps he sees his academic endeavours also as a form of entertaining the public.

Rolf Degen: I hope that this will not escalate, as this could get ugly for the field of psychology. Jens Förster, a German, is a bigger name than Stapel ever was. He was repeatedly portrayed in the German media, not the least because of his second calling as a singer and a cabaret artist, and he has published an enormous amount of books, studies and review papers, all high quality stuff

This revelation occurs at a bad time for Förster, write the Dutch media. He is supposed to work as “Humboldt professor starting from June 1, and he was awarded five million Euros to do research at a German university the next five years. He is also supposed to cooperate with Jürgen Margraf – who is the President of the “German Society for Psychology” and as such the highest ranking German psychologist.

Another fraudster unmasked in Dutch academia: Anthropologist Mart Bax

September 23, 2013

After the unmasking of the massive scientific misconduct committed by Dirk Smeesters, Don Poldermans and Diedrik Stapel, the Netherlands can ill afford yet another scandal. But that would be living in hope. Now comes this scandal involving an anthropologist, Mart Bax, which appears to be just as massive a fraud.

It does seem that Dutch Universities are cleansing their academic stables. And by the amount of excrement being found it seems to be quite a task! I don’t think that attitudes and pressures in Dutch scientific research are much different to those in other parts of Europe. Which only suggests that while the Dutch are cleaning house, there is a great deal of muck waiting to be found in other countries.

(The picture in the earlier posting was not of Mart Bax but of the journalist who exposed him. The picture has been removed. My thanks to thinkerandtinker for pointing out my error and my apologies to Mr. Frank van Kolfschooten).

Bax retired as a Professor from the Free University (Vrije Universiteit) of Amsterdam in 2003. But for 15 years – at least – he has been making up data. He has invented places where he has claimed to have carried out research, he has made up titles for himself along with claims of non-existent teaching at prestigious universities. Some 64 papers of his 161 claimed publications do not exist.

  • Of the 161 publications claimed by Bax, 64 are non-existent.
  • The book Medjugorje: Religion, Politics, and Violence in Rural Bosnia (1995) mentions a blood feud for which there is no evidence at all. None of the inhabitants of the area are aware of anything like this happening.
  • Shortly after the publication of book mentioned above, Bax acknowledged that he misinterpreted some information, but claimed he did not have the chance to make any rectifications.
  • The commission established he did have the opportunity to rectify these errors at various occasions, yet never did.
  • After the publication of Medjugorje: Religion, Politics, and Violence in Rural Bosnia, Bax referred to the blood feud in three other articles, after he already acknowledged to be aware of the misinterpretation, which the commission labeled as “serious scientific misconduct”.

Retraction Watch: Bax, who studied an Irish town he called Patricksville, a Dutch pilgrimage site he called Neerdonk, and Medjugorje, a Bosnian pilgrimage site, retired from the Free University in 2002. The university began investigating Bax’s work last year after science journalist Frank van Kolfschooten published Ontspoorde Wetenschap (“Derailed science”). In that book, van Kolfschooten raised questions about Bax’s work into an alleged massacre at Medjugorje during the Bosnian War.

 NRC Handelsblad: Again fraud in science is exposed by a university inquiry. Former professor of political anthropology Mart Bax from the Free University has invented research, published nonexistent items put on his list of publications and  committed forgery in university documents. That concludes a commission of inquiry headed by historian Prof. Michiel Baud from the University of Amsterdam.

Volkskrant: The retired professor of political anthropology at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam Mart Bax has committed at least 15 years of serious scientific misconduct, forgery and plagiarism itself. That is the conclusion of the inquiry led by historian Michiel Baud in a report released today.  ….

The committee also calls it “very likely” that Bax has made up much of his fieldwork in Brabant and the Bosnian pilgrimage site of Medjugorje from his imagination. But the committee can not formally call it science fraud since Bax insists he was misled by informants themselves. Notes have been destroyed and the informants themselves are untraceable or deceased. The Committee therefore holds it as “serious scientific misconduct “,” deception” and “unethical scientific behavior”.

Another headline chasing psychologist is censured

August 7, 2013

What is it about social psychology and psychologists that causes them particularly to chase notoriety and public attention even to the extent of faking data? Diedrik Stapel and Marc Hauser being recent high profile cases. Could it just be that they are all suffer from a narcissism which can only be satisfied by generating headlines and generally being in the limelight?

Now a certain Geoffrey Miller – supposedly an “evolutionary psychologist” – has been publicly censured by New York University  for essentially behaving like an idiot and then lying about it. After tweeting a stupid and offensive remark he then tried to pass it off as part of a research project! He has now apologised – a bit late – and deleted the tweet. But his self-promotional intentions were recognised. Apparently he researches into how the human mind evolved. (Or as is pretty obvious –  didn’t evolve for some).

“The Tweeting activities of associate professor Geoffrey Miller did not rise to the level of research,” said a statement from the IRB on the university’s website.

“The board concluded that Miller’s Tweets were self-promotional in nature and did not follow research criteria which require specific research questions or hypotheses, systematic methods for collection quantitative and/or qualitative data and criteria for selecting respondents.”

He is an Associate Professor at the University of New Mexico and visiting NYU

The Times Higher Education covers the developments:

A US professor who Tweeted that if overweight PhD applicants “didn’t have the willpower to stop eating carbs” then they “won’t have the willpower to do a dissertation” has been formally censured by his university.

Geoffrey Miller Twitter page

Geoffrey Miller Twitter page

Geoffrey Miller, associate professor of psychology at the University of New Mexico, apologised after sending the Tweet, which he subsequently deleted. He later told UNM it had been part of a research project – a claim dismissed by the university

The institution has now formally censured Professor Miller for “misrepresenting to his department chair and colleagues the motivation for a Tweet”. 

“Miller at first claimed his Tweet was part of a research project, but investigations by the Institutional Review Board at New York University where he was a visiting professor, and the IRB at UNM where he is a tenured professor, concluded that was not correct,” a statement from his university read. 

As part of the censure, Professor Miller will be required to develop “a plan for sensitivity training as it pertains to obesity” in cooperation with the UNM psychology department, and apologise to colleagues for his behavior. 

Professor Miller, who can appeal the censure, will also have his work monitored by the chair of the psychology department, and will be assigned a faculty mentor for three years, with whom he will meet on a regular basis to discuss potential problems.

ORI finds misconduct by Marc Hauser in 4 NIH grants

September 6, 2012

Psychology is an academic discipline but it is not (yet) a science.

The Hausergate affaire followed by the Diedrik Stapel affaire only confirmed my view that psychology as an academic discipline is permeated by confirmation bias (and sometimes just plain fraud). Now the Marc Hauser affaire reaches some kind of a conclusion (at least until he has served his “sentence” and is then “rehabilitated”) with the Office of Research Integrity’s report.

Retraction Watch comments on the ORI report:

Two years after questions surfaced about work by former Harvard psychology professor Marc Hauser, an official government report is finally out.

It’s not pretty.

The findings by the Office of Research Integrity were first reported by the Boston Globe, which was also first to report the issues in Hauser’s work. They’re extensive, covering misconduct in four different NIH grants ……..

As I had posted at the end of last year, psychology as an academic discipline needs to start introducing some intellectual rigour:

That psychology is a discipline and a field of study is indisputable. That the study of human (or animal) behaviour is a worthy field and that experimentation and research are well worth pursuing is also obvious. But I am of the view that it is far from being a science.  Psychology can be considered to be a pre-science similar to alchemy. And the practitioners of psychology are similar to priests and shamans and witch-doctors and other practitioners of magic. Inevitably the field contains many charlatans.  …… In the various fields of psychology, the null hypothesis is rarely if ever brought into play. …..

…. As Paul Lutus so well puts it

…. psychology can make virtually any claim and offer any kind of therapy, because there is no practical likelihood of refutation – no clear criteria to invalidate a claim. This, in turn, is because human psychology is not a science, it is very largely a belief system similar to religion.

Data fabrication by Hauser and Stapel strengthen the view that psychology is no science

December 23, 2011

That psychology is a discipline and a field of study is indisputable. That the study of human (or animal) behaviour is a worthy field and that experimentation and research are well worth pursuing is also obvious. But I am of the view that it is far from being a science.  Psychology can be considered to be a pre-science similar to alchemy. And the practitioners of psychology are similar to priests and shamans and witch-doctors and other practitioners of magic. Inevitably the field contains many charlatans.

During 2011 the high profile cases of Marc Hauser and Diederik Stapel  where data was faked (and no matter which way the pill is coated they both fabricated data to suit their theories) only reinforces my view that their behaviour was essentially narcissistic and not uncommon in the burgeoning fields of psychology. In both cases inflated egos led to the creation of their “signature” hypotheses followed by the fabrication of data to prove their conclusions – which had already been reached! I am inherently suspicious of psychologists who are supposed scientists but who are seduced by the fame and fortunes of press adulation or tenure or who become Agony Aunts on TV.

Charles Gross writes in The Nation about the Marc Hauser affair and concludes:

(more…)


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