September 5, 2012 | David F. Coppedge

Evolutionist Disgraced

Marc Hauser, Harvard evolutionary psychologist who resigned under a cloud, was found guilty of scientific misconduct and admitted to some of it.

Nature News reported: “Former Harvard University psychologist Marc Hauser has admitted to making ‘mistakes’ in his research that led to findings of research misconduct announced today by the US Office of Research Integrity, which polices research funded by the National Institutes of Health.”

Hauser’s confession is reported by the Boston Globe.  He admitted some mistakes, but stood by most of his work: “I am saddened that this investigation has caused some to question all of my work, rather than the few papers and unpublished studies in question.

The Harvard Magazine, though, printed a substantial list of misconduct investigators found, including fabricating data and falsely describing results.  Hauser resigned last year when the investigation began.  The magazine says, “he had planned to return to Harvard after his leave, but resigned following a psychology department faculty vote against having him resume teaching duties.”  An update states that Harvard instigated the investigation and agrees with the US Office findings.  (See note following our 12/24/2010 entry for first indications of misconduct.)

The magazine stated, “Hauser studied the evolution of language and cognition, in research involving monkeys and humans.

In a column today in Nature unrelated to the Hauser investigation, Jim Woodgett of Mount Sinai Hospital wrote that scientists must be open about their mistakes.  “The scientific community must be diligent in highlighting abuses, develop greater transparency and accessibility for its work, police research more effectively and exemplify laudable behaviour,” he warned.  “This includes encouraging more open debate about misconduct and malpractice, exposing our dirty laundry and welcoming external examination.

Update 9/11/2012: Nature News reported that there are questions about whether Hauser intentionally committed misconduct.  Outsiders cannot know due to privacy rules of the investigation.  According to reporter Eugenie Samuel Reich, projects tainted by the misconduct were funded by the NIH up to $790,000.  Now that Hauser is gone from Harvard, he has turned his attention to education, working with a company that develops computer games to teach students cognitive skills and self-control.  “This work is deeply satisfying and I look forward to making new contributions to human welfare, education and the role of scientific knowledge in understanding human nature,” he said.

Update 9/13/2012: Science Magazine 14 September gave a balanced report on the Hauser investigation, presenting views of accusers and defenders, as well as specifics on the alleged instances of misconduct.  Apparently whistleblowers from his own lab tipped off Harvard’s investigation, which was followed up and confirmed by the ORI at NIH.  Some of his colleagues call him solely responsible and are bothered by his refusal to accept responsibility: “It is sad that Hauser still will not admit to the charges that have been found against him when he does appear to nonetheless accept that the evidence exists and is legitimate,” Gerry Altmann wrote in an e-mail to Science.  Some of his lab workers are now disgruntled that their work has been tainted by their association with him.  Science noted that his “provocative work” garnered “media attention” and that the publication of his book Moral Minds: How Nature Designed Our Universal Sense of Right and Wrong, “he had moved into the rarified sphere of the public intellectual.”  Some colleagues in the evolutionary psychology community, nevertheless, are standing by him and downplaying the seriousness of the misconduct, some of which was not published.  As part of the discipline, any research Hauser does with funding from the Public Health Service must be supervised, and he is barred from peer reviewing others’ work, for 3 years.

Marc Hauser’s “research” was often reported in these pages.  In 9/21/2005, we saw him referring to human capabilities as  “the chimpanzee mind.”   5/29/2006, we found him joining the Darwin Centurions against the I.D. Visigoths.  In 10/27/2006 and 11/06/2006, we saw his fellow Darwinists adoring his new book Moral Minds: How Nature Designed Our Universal Sense of Right and Wrong (by natural selection).  In the 2/22/2008 entry, we saw him engaging in “paleofantasy,” trying to rescue Darwin from the huge cognitive gulf between chimpanzees and human children.  In 4/07/2009, we saw him divining into “the evolution of dogs and the evolution of humans.”  In 7/06/2009, we saw him attributing animals’ ability to count to evolution.  In 2/08/2010, just months before he was caught, we saw him trying to evolutionize religion to a point that even appalled Nature reporter Phillip Ball.

This is the guy, you might remember, who taught his toddler to adore Charles Darwin: “When my youngest daughter was about three years old, I pulled a cheap trick on her, teaching her that whenever I asked ‘Who’s the man?’, she should reply ‘Darwin!’ She does this quite well now,” he said (see 7/03/2007 entry).  Let’s hope his new work with students on Cape Cod does not involve this kind of Darwin brainwashing.  Is this the person you want teaching your kid self-control?

So while we don’t rejoice over anyone’s downfall, we are not surprised.  Actually, we think Hauser should have been rewarded.  Remember, he wrote a book about how “nature” (a.k.a. natural selection) produced our “moral minds,” our “sense of right and wrong.”  It’s not really right or wrong, he said; it’s just a “sense” of it that the aimless, purposeless, amoral process of selection produced in us.  Natural selection allows room for cheaters in its schemes for how morality evolved.  Cheaters are not doing wrong; they’re just participants in the game (3/25/2010).  Harvard needs cheaters like Marc Hauser to keep their evolutionary game going.  It gives the “punishers” something to do (1/13/2010).  Hauser actually played a vital role, therefore, at Harvard, and illustrated how evolutionary game theory was supposed to work (11/16/2009).  Remember the evolutionist who said, “it becomes advantageous for some individuals to cheat, and vice versa, which allows co-existence between cheaters and cooperators to arise”?  (4/07/2009).

Yes!  Reward Marc Hauser.  He illustrated the morality of “the chimpanzee mind” in real-world experiments.  The joke was on Harvard, not him.  He really showed his daughter that Darwin is The Man.  He is a consistent Darwinian.  Should Harvard punish a faithful devotee of Darwin?  Should the U.S. Office of Research Integrity punish someone who revealed that integrity is a farce, an illusion, a relic of natural selection? (7/23/2010)  Reward the cheater!  Reward all the Darwinian cheaters.  We like that, because it will hasten the implosion of the Darwin totalitarian regime.

 

 

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Comments

  • Shawn says:

    I agree that I find it odd they are punishing him, after all, isn’t his own conduct just further verification of his premise that we are all just animals that have been selected to behave a certain way? Maybe he is just the odd mutation. We can’t punish him for his behavior, because it is not like he has a choice in the matter. We are fully caused beings, he is just a product of his environment, unable to differentiate between “right” and “wrong” because those are just imaginary concepts. And blah blah blah, yadda yadda, evolution, millions of years.

    See I can do it too!

    On a more serious note, is this the same guy who was reported earlier for having published a bunch of research that ended up being either fully or partially fabricated? I thought I read an article like that earlier this year on CEH. If that is the case, woof, the ol’ psychology department is taking it in the shorts in terms of credibility. I took an introductory course to psychology last semester, and it was more or less a load of [refuse]. I especially enjoyed the text we used, as the author made a very pathetic attempt at placating the “religiously” minded folks with a quote from Richard Dawkins. I about had an aneurism. It had something to do with Dawkins saying, “just because we know how a rainbow works, doesn’t mean the magic is taken away from it”. It was comforting to my frail sensibilites to know that the rainbows were still magical, whatever that even means.

    I kept my head down and got my A and got out, but I cannot even begin to tell you how much I would have loved to just talk through some issues out loud with my teacher in front of the class. I’m glad I have CEH for news just like this. I wish I would have had these articles last semester, I would have liked to bring them in and see what my professor would say about it. She favored psychology as a science and less of an art, when I would argue that it is mainly fanciful thought combined with junk science.

    I’ll stop there. Thinking about the time I wasted in that class gets my blood pressure up.

  • justme says:

    The emperor has no clothes.

  • John S says:

    My innate sense of morality (aka spidey-sense) says Mr. Hauser feels no remorse.

    “If I offended you by my research I apologize. That was not my intent. My intent was to wipe you off the faces of the multi-verse. My mutated and superior ethic has only been strengthened, and I will by the grace of Charlie succeed. Even if it has to be at Yale.”

  • Joe Martin says:

    At least the scientific community has the integrity to admit when one of its own violates that integrity and correct the situation. The scientific method takes rogue scientists into account and prunes them out through peer review, just like what happened here.

    What does the ID/Creationist community do? You just gotta have faith! I refer you to “Of Pandas and People”.

    • Editor says:

      Joe: Everybody has faith. Evolutionists have faith that nobody times nothing equals everything. All scientists have faith that the universe is orderly and comprehensible. As for peer review, have you been keeping up with the news about it? It’s not the panacea your statement seems to suggest, or else all the rogue evolutionists with their just-so stories would have been pruned out long ago. Peer review has also been very effective at pruning out Darwin skeptics of all kinds, not just I.D. advocates. You might notice that many of the most influential scientific theories of all time were not peer reviewed, including those of Newton, Boyle, and Maxwell. Origin of Species was not peer reviewed.

      Hauser was not ejected by peer review, but by the NIH office of scientific integrity. He had received $790,000 in NIH grants for work that is now suspect. Do the taxpayers get their money back? No. I.D. advocates and creationists, who receive no grant money and have to raise all their support, arguably do a better job pruning suspicious claims from their ranks; do you have any evidence to the contrary? Then don’t make broad-brush accusations like that. Use the “scientific method.”

  • Joe Martin says:

    “Editor” (are you an editor for this website or do you just call yourself editor?): Deliberate obfuscation of the definition of terms such as “faith” and “peer review”, as well as straw-man rhetoric such as “Evolutionists have faith that nobody times nothing equals everything” does nothing to validate your argument to anybody except those predisposed to see things the way you do.

    I assume it is unlikely that the typical reader of articles such as this is aware of the difference between religious faith and my faith that my well-armed neighbor won’t shoot me for no reason. Those types of faith are altogether two different things. Of course, neither definition applies to the scientific method.

    Scientists do not rely on faith that the universe is orderly and comprehensible, because the evidence provided by use of the scientific method shows them that it is.

    While Newton, Boyle, Maxwell and Darwin’s original work may not have been subjected to peer review in the modern sense, their theories are constantly subjected to falsification and modification through experiments and observations that test those theories on a regular basis. I can guarantee you that if any of those theories were falsified by legitimate means, the responsible scientist(s) would be screaming their results from the rooftops so they can collect their Nobel prize.

    You said that Hauser was not ejected by peer review, but the “NIH office of scientific integrity” (assuming you are refering to the Office of Research Integrity) IS simply another avenue of peer review.

    You asked for examples of fraud from the ID/Creationist crowd? Fine. How about the textbook, “Of Pandas and People”? A disingenuous attempt to poison legitimate science education by passing off religious creationism as a scientific concept by editing all references to “creationism” in the first draft to “intelligent design” in the second, after a court ruling decided that creationism is a religious concept, not a scientific one.

    • Editor says:

      Joe, since you are veering way off topic of this article, and engaging in the usual evolutionary sawed-off-shotgun approach to argument, with a string of irrelevancies, ad hominems and distortions, you are given this one last chance to vent, but future feedback in this vein will get you blocked. This article was about Marc Hauser, period. It was not about religious faith. It was not about Pandas and People. It was not about about who is the Editor. Read the rules for commenting– this is not a venue for you to spout the anti-creationist talking points.

  • Joe Martin says:

    Editor: Unfortunate if this comment gets me blocked, but here goes. My last comment to this article, while admittedly not completely relevant to the article, was in response to the contents of your comment. If the discussion has beed deemed as off topic, I did not start us on that path.

    • Editor says:

      Not true. Your first comment brought up the “ID/creationist community” as people of “faith” (as opposed to science), and threw out “Of Pandas and People” as a red herring. This is the sawed-off-shotgun attack I spoke of, which you elevated in your second response. Maybe you should read the linked articles about what Marc Hauser did prior to getting caught. Then if your righteous indignation is aimed at CEH instead of the Darwinists, read yesterday’s entry about the “evolution of morality” and tell us where your indignation evolved from.

  • John S says:

    It was posited that it takes faith to accept that everything came from nothing “nobody times nothing equals everything” and the reply is

    (there is a) “difference between religious faith and my faith that my well-armed neighbor won’t shoot me for no reason”

    How are these 2 concepts related at all? Minimally a faith in not getting shot is based on some knowledge – of your neighbor, of your society, of human morality, etc. To claim absolute nothingness begat not simply an atom but an entire universe not only is not based on knowledge it goes against all knowledge.

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