Mike Spagat writes:
I think some of your loyal readers will be interested in this conference on fabrication in survey research.
You certainly have covered this topic from time to time but I think it would be fair to say that it’s still a little bit too far under the radar screen. The LaCour experience would be a case in point where it initially didn’t occur to you (or to me) that the data may have been fabricated.
I believe that there are still a few empty seats left for the conference but, more importantly, there will be live streaming with recordings being posted afterwards as well.
The conference is at the National Opinion Research Center’s offices in Bethesda, Maryland. Great lineup of speakers but I was disappointed not to see Weggy there. Maybe he’ll be a surprise guest? He’s only one state away, and I’m sure he has lots to say on the topic.
If I were speaking at this conference, I’d emphasize what I see as the continuity between data fabrication, cheating in data analysis, sloppily opportunistic data analysis (for example, dubious rounding processes that conveniently turn p=.052 into p=.048), and general overestimation of what can be learned from small samples (this is what doomed the studies of beauty and sex ratio, ovulation and clothing, etc). The common theme is researchers believing they have the answer, and thinking of data collection and statistical analysis just as a series of hoops they must jump through to get their expected confirmation. To put it another way: Stapel made everything up, Lacour seems to have made up a lot of things; Hauser might still believe that his codings of the notorious monkey videos are correct; the ovulation-and-voting people did no misconduct at all, they were just following the rules that were taught to them. But all of them want to prove the truth of a hypothesis and none of them have any real evidence in favor.