In today’s New York Times, Nicholas Wade continues his analysis of Harvard’s fraud case against primatologist Marc Hauser. Hauser, you will recall, was found guilty by Harvard of eight charges of scientific misconduct, which may have included data fabrication, and was put on leave without pay for a year. Hauser apologized (an excerpt follows):
I am deeply sorry for the problems this case has caused to my students, my colleagues, and my university..
I acknowledge that I made some significant mistakes and I am deeply disappointed that this has led to a retraction and two corrections. I also feel terrible about the concerns regarding the other five cases, which involved either unpublished work or studies in which the record was corrected before submission for publication.
I hope that the scientific community will now wait for the federal investigative agencies to make their final conclusions based on the material that they have available.
The Times reports that some colleagues are now coming to Hauser’s defense, a journal editor who accused him of fraud is backing off, and a critical experiment, whose results seemed fraudulent, may show nothing more than carelessness in setting up the protocol.
The article contains a good deal of special pleading about the experiments by Hauser, and I suppose that this may all be some sort of ghastly misunderstanding. It’s a mess, and the investigation by the government’s Office of Research Integrity could take years.