Eric Felten (WSJ)—Morality Check: When Fad Science Is Bad Science

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Harvard University announced last Friday that its Standing Committee on Professional Conduct had found Marc Hauser, one of the school's most prominent scholars, guilty of multiple counts of "scientific misconduct." The revelation came after a three-year inquiry into allegations that the professor had fudged data in his research on monkey cognition. Since the studies were funded, in part, by government grants, the university has sent the evidence to the Feds.

The professor has not admitted wrongdoing, but he did issue a statement apologizing for making "significant mistakes." And beyond his own immediate career difficulties, Mr. Hauser's difficulties spell trouble for one of the trendiest fields in academia—evolutionary psychology.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationPsychologyScience & Technology* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

Posted August 27, 2010 at 12:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

1. Don R wrote:

As I’ve said in the past, one of the ostensible weaknesses of materialist philosophy is that it has no mythology. I think a lot, maybe even most, of evolutionary psychology serves exactly that purpose: materialist mythology.  I’ve always thought it was odd when people say, in effect, “I’m just making this up, but let’s believe it!”

August 27, 12:07 pm | [comment link]
2. Ruthie wrote:

Mr. Hauser had boldly declared that through his application of science, not only could morality be stripped of any religious hocus-pocus, but philosophy would have to step aside as well: “Inquiry into our moral nature will no longer be the proprietary province of the humanities and social sciences,” he wrote. Would it be such a bad thing if Hausergate resulted in some intellectual humility among the new scientists of morality?
I suspect his defense will be he was simply testing his latest phychological hypothess on himself.

August 27, 11:19 pm | [comment link]
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