Popular Dutch psychologist Diederik Stapel found to be a fraud

Popular Dutch psychologist Diederik Stapel found to be a fraud
(Medical Xpress) -- Diederik Stapel, the Dutch social psychologist who has made news on a rather regular basis over the last several years, and who had even become popular on some television chat shows, has been found to be a complete fraud, making up data, rather than conducting field trials as he claimed. In his so-called studies of social phenomena, he’s made claims suggesting for example that eating meat makes people more aggressive, or that scientists working in messy labs tend to discriminate more.

A preliminary report published on Tilburg University website (in Dutch) describes how he and his work are now under investigation by all three of the universities that have employed him over the length of his career and how his own thesis is now under review as well. Also, sadly, many students that had Stapel as a supervisor now face questions about the work on their theses as well.

Tilburg University, Stapel’s current employer has suspended him pending the outcome of the still ongoing investigation. Pim Levelt, chair of the committee that is conducting the investigation has said that 30 papers thus far have been shown to be based on falsified data. At this point approximately 150 papers are being looked at, many more of which are suspected to be based on fictional data.

Thus far, it appears that Stapel was simply averse to carrying out actual field studies, choosing instead to simply create data in his head that he felt would support what he was trying to show. On student projects, he would simply go away for a time, then come back with data that he claimed had been obtained through field studies conducted by some other source. Shockingly, some students have reported that they never once had to conduct a field study to pass his courses.

Stapel has issued a statement where he says he is both sorry and embarrassed by what he’s done, though some might wonder if there is any point in listening to anything that is being said by someone who has made a career out of lying to the public about social behavior. Indeed, one of his “studies” that may or may not have been based on actual data, reportedly showed, via the way some psychologists reacted to a plagiarism scandal, how people in positions of power can have their moral compass go askew. Stapel’s fraudulent behavior came to light when some of his research assistants suspected something was amiss and went to college authorities who opened the investigation that led to other findings of .

Stapel, who is still just forty six years old, may also be prosecuted for misappropriation of university funds and for harming the reputations of colleagues and students. Also, obviously, his career is over, and he may even wind up losing his own degree. Many are likely to scratch their heads wondering what he was thinking, and indeed, Stapel himself will probably be doing a lot of that himself as he ponders his actions for the rest of his life.


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Nov 02, 2011
All psychologists are frauds.

Nov 02, 2011
in before a crank uses this to argue AGW, DE, evolution, etc and also before the thread becomes a lesson in the scientific method / peer review that is aimed at the trolls and is promptly ignored and/or forgotten

Edit: dang, too late. Kaas was in before me.

Nov 02, 2011
Sounds like Climate Science all over again!

Nov 02, 2011
in before a crank uses this to argue AGW, DE, evolution, etc and also before the thread becomes a lesson in the scientific method / peer review that is aimed at the trolls and is promptly ignored and/or forgotten

Psychology is not science. Neuroscience however IS science.

Nov 02, 2011
in before a crank uses this to argue AGW, DE, evolution, etc and also before the thread becomes a lesson in the scientific method / peer review that is aimed at the trolls and is promptly ignored and/or forgotten

Psychology is not science. Neuroscience however IS science.


Have you really never heard of the phrase "soft science?" If you have, what gives you the authority to define words for the rest of us? If you have a nuanced opinion about the merits of psychology, why didn't you give that, instead of a loaded comment? Some would call that trollish behavior, but you don't allow your intentions to be known, so who knows what you think you are doing?

Nov 02, 2011
How many times does this need to happen before people see there is a serious problem yet with a few simple solutions?

Next time university professors have students sign a form acknowledging the university's policy against cheating, fraud and plagiarism, the students should write "Right back at you!" on the bottom of the form.

Nov 02, 2011
in before a crank uses this to argue AGW, DE, evolution, etc and also before the thread becomes a lesson in the scientific method / peer review that is aimed at the trolls and is promptly ignored and/or forgotten

Psychology is not science. Neuroscience however IS science.


Have you really never heard of the phrase "soft science?" If you have, what gives you the authority to define words for the rest of us? If you have a nuanced opinion about the merits of psychology, why didn't you give that, instead of a loaded comment?

You dare to make a comment about scientific method and then mention something like soft-science?
Pseudoscience is a claim, belief, or practice which is presented as scientific, but which does not adhere to a valid scientific method, lacks supporting evidence or plausibility,

Something is science or it is not. There is no in between.

Nov 02, 2011
Perhaps this is just another field trial to test the public on opinions about fraudulent scientific work, under the guise of an actual fraudulent scientist.

Nov 02, 2011
He should face prison for at least a year as a deterrence to other researchers.

Is alone? Bluntly many researchers seem unnaturally productive which paradoxically makes it hard to raise doubts. Successful they have more to lose and so make any suggestions their work is less than kosher particularly libelous.

Nov 02, 2011
How many times does this need to happen before people see there is a serious problem yet with a few simple solutions?


How many times do people have to be told that their perspective of news is affected by an ever increasing sample size? Bad things aren't happening more often. We are simply being presented with more news than in the past. There are also more scientists than ever. Adjust your outrage accordingly.

Nov 02, 2011
Ok, arguing whether or not soft sciences actually use the method got old for me 15 years ago. I knew this was going to devolve into a total waste of time. Later, dudes.

Nov 02, 2011
Ok, arguing whether or not soft sciences actually use the method got old for me 15 years ago. I knew this was going to devolve into a total waste of time. Later, dudes.


If something uses scientific method it is science, not soft-science.

Nov 02, 2011
Actually, Kaasinees, the breadth of the Psychology spectrum is quite extensive, and although there are fields of study under the larger umbrella term which utilize more empirical and objective forms of testing, such as the ones used in biopsychology or neuropsychology (those are the correct terms, not neuroscience...), you have to remember than even the most humanistic and 'social' side of Psychology utilizes statistically based research methods with their experiments. In addition, all undergraduate students who declare Psychology degrees are required to study upper 3rd and 4th year statistics courses for that very reason. Do you see them doing that in the humanities? Hardly.
I would be willing to bet, given your ridiculous remarks, that your background lies in the natural sciences, thus you somehow feel justified to call Psychology a 'non-science' simply because it is, INDEED, a Social Science by nature. Just silly if you ask me (and very far from scientific!).

Nov 02, 2011
Psychology degrees are required to study upper 3rd and 4th year statistics courses for that very reason. Do you see them doing that in the humanities? Hardly.


So you agree that psychologists apply psychology on the general population based on ASSUMPTIONS? Behavioral studies are a subset of neuroscience(yes this term is correct). The exact field of science they practice is as you said (and if you agree statistical analysis is science, which i do not) neuroscience.

They take the results of other sciences(neuroscience) take a an average or most occurent phenomena and then go to assume that this applies to the general population? Agree or not?

This is no science.

Nov 02, 2011
Kaasiness:
Your propositional logic is totally illogical and is not supported by example. To make it worse, your question is loaded (So you agree?). Someone has to take the time to actually break down what you are saying in order to analyze & make sense of it. You should work on that.
First of all, get your facts right. Scientists at University that study human behavior or cognition are engaging in a systematic activity to acquire knowledge and are not necessarily 'Psychologists' in the legal sense.
Secondly, this sentence makes no sense: 'Psychologists applying psychology based on assumptions'. This is something no one could agree with based on how poorly it is written.
Thirdly, behavioral studies are NOT a subset of Neuropsychology and they most certainly don't take the results from other areas of their OWN field in order to make assumptions based on the population. Your claim doesn't even have any evidence to support this. WHAT results? WHAT averages? Who is THEY?
Try again...

Nov 02, 2011
"Also, sadly, many students that had Stapel as a supervisor now face questions about the work on their theses as well."

Does anyone have an estimate on the number of former students whom might be affected because of his activities?

Nov 02, 2011
First of all, get your facts right. Scientists at University that study human behavior or cognition are engaging in a systematic activity to acquire knowledge and are not necessarily 'Psychologists' in the legal sense.

No reading comprehension? They are by definition neuroscientists. As i said.

Thirdly, behavioral studies are NOT a subset of Neuropsychology

They are a subset of neuroscience.(which is what i said)
You give an organism an environment with your variables, you watch this organism react to this environment, you change a variable and watch the changes in behavior. Obviously behavior is defined by neurophysiology(also a subset of neuroscience)

http://en.wikiped...oscience

Try again.

Your arguments are loaded with nonsense and you use terms incorrectly and i wasn't talking to you. Try again.

READING COMPREHENSION___ FAILURE.(seriously neuropsychology?)

Nov 02, 2011
I would be willing to bet, given your ridiculous remarks, that your background lies in the natural sciences, thus you somehow feel justified to call Psychology a 'non-science'

Science is by definition natural.

Gees, why are there so many pseudoscience wannabes on this website?

Nov 02, 2011
Actually, Kaasinees, your reading comprehension could do with some work. Clinical Neuropsychology is a field, and I have many colleagues who have PhD's in either Clinical or Cognitive Neuropsychology. One of my colleagues is a Clinical Neuropsychologist who conducts research with patients who have Prosopagnosia. If you don't know what that is, look it up. Their undergraduate work was completed by completing BSc's in both Biopsychology and Computer Science fields. So for the last time, please cease dismissing the term Neuropsychology in order to make a point which has no real value.

And to respond to your last post: Cognition and human behaviour IS natural. So given your claim, you are asserting that cognition and behaviour isn't natural and therefore it isn't a science! Momentsinmind is right, your logic is very illogical!
And just so you can see how silly copy and pasting wiki articles is, enjoy this one:
http://en.wikiped...ychology

Nov 02, 2011
Actually, since neurons are grounded in basic physics and chemistry, which in turn are suborned by quantum mechanics, it therefore follows that not just psychology but also neuroscience is not a real science, and that neuroscientists -- just like psychologists -- are actually quantum physicists.

There, simplified your "argument" for you.

Nov 03, 2011
He should face prison for at least a year as a deterrence to other researchers.


Interesting. Scientists with questionable methods and data are mercilessly prosecuted, while politicians who cheated and lied through their teeth are still in power, and the taxpayers have to foot their generous pensions! A revolution is in order!

Nov 03, 2011
Next time university professors have students sign a form acknowledging the university's policy against cheating, fraud and plagiarism, the students should write "Right back at you!" on the bottom of the form.

and every profesor (at the latest as a PhD student) has signed those forms himself. Your point?

Ther will always be individuals who take the easy way out. Corrupt policemen, politicians or corner cutting scientists. Does that mean that this is standard behavior in the entire profession? (OK...maybe 'politicians' was a bad example, but you get the point)
As for psychology. We shouldn't diss it too hard - it is an exceptionally tricky science. Most other science can have rigorously controlled experiments. But humans can't be kept in isolation and deprived of all factors (including memories, daily form, current emotional balance, ... ) except the ones under scrutiny.
That psychology produces less 'hard' findings than other sciences is to be expected.

MBS
Nov 03, 2011
Dear kaasinees,

So...

experimental work, with manipulation of different (experimental and control)conditions, collecting data and running it through statistical analysis programs ...
does that sound like science?
If yes, psychology has to count as science.
If no, please explain why...

Nov 05, 2011
Those in positions of power who abuse the system for personal gains should face prison time. Scientists, police, clergy, politicians, bankers, journalists, among others, should be held to a higher standard. Corruption damages public perception of trusted systems.

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