Confessions of scientific​ fraud

29 Dec, 2018 at 18:29 | Posted in Statistics & Econometrics | 1 Comment

Even with my various “grey” methods for “improving” the data, I wasn’t able to get the results the way I wanted them. I couldn’t resist the temptation to go a step further. I wanted it so badly …

I opened the file with the data that I had entered and changed an unexpected 2 into a 4; then, a little further along, I changed a 3 into a 5. It didn’t feel right.

fake-dataI looked around me nervously. The data danced in front of my eyes. When the results are just not quite what you’d so badly hoped for … when you know that there are other people doing similar research elsewhere who are getting good results; then, surely, you’re entitled to adjust the results just a little?

No. I clicked on “Undo Typing.” And again. I felt very alone. I didn’t want this. I’d worked so hard. I’d done everything I could and it just hadn’t quite worked out the way I’d expected. It just wasn’t quite how everyone could see that it logically had to be … I looked at the array of data and made a few mouse clicks to tell the computer to run the statistical analyses. When I saw the results, the world had become logical again. I saw what I’d imagined.

Diederik Stapel

1 Comment

  1. How much does this go on, undetected, in finance?

    I was reminded of a job I had where I was told to display average network routing times for a salesman’s tool. I dutifully computed weighted averages on several columns of numbers, and displayed the averages. The salesmen complained that the average of the averages was different than the overall weighted average, ignorant of the columns of numbers with different sizes behind the displayed averages. My boss told me to give them what they wanted. Statistics, even as doubtful as they are, are made subservient to perverse, arbitrary, human administrations.

    (For the record, the salesmen finally came to their senses and accepted my weighted average calculations. But that too seemed kind of arbitrary. It was all a social people game, really, in my humble opinion. Efficiency had very little to do with it.)


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