The New Age: Notes of a Fringe Watcher

By Martin Gardner | Go to book overview

26 Chicanery in Science

What to do about scientific fraud? The recent disclosure that a researcher at New York City's Mount Sinai School of Medicine had faked data on a patent application for hemophilia drugs was only the latest such scandal. Considering the explosive growth in research, it is no surprise that chicanery is also rising.

Science writers William J. Broad and Nicholas Wade have put together a valuable, entertaining account of science fraud, not so much by obvious cranks and charlatans as by respected scientists who betrayed their calling from within the mainstream. Their book, titled Betrayers of the Truth ( Simon and Schuster, 1982), contains fresh accounts of René Blondlot and his imaginary N-rays, Charles Dawson and his Piltdown man, Paul Kammerer and his phony midwife toads, and other classic frauds. Most of the booic, however, concentrates on more recent examples of deception--deliberate, unconscious, or half-intended--especially in medical research, where human lives and lots of money are at stake.

Why do they do it? Why do bright young men like John Long, investigating Hodgkin's disease, and William Summerlin, working on tissue transplants, shatter their medical careers by faking results? Why did Elias Alsabti shamelessly plagiarize the work of others? What motivated Cyril Burt, England's distinguished psychologist, to fabricate his data on identical twins? In most cases the answer is obvious: There are enormous academic and financial pressures to produce.

The authors' recommendations are hard to fault. Published papers should be fewer in number and better refereed, peer reviewing of applications for financial support should be improved, top scientists should stop seeking credit for work by underlings, and so on. But Broad and Wade move to shakier ground when they attack philosophers and scientists for holding views that the authors believe encourage fraud.

There is a pernicious myth, they are persuaded, that just about everyone

____________________
This review originally appeared in Discover, April 1983, and is reprinted with permission.

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The New Age: Notes of a Fringe Watcher
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Contents 7
  • Preface 9
  • Part 1 11
  • 1 - Project Alpha 13
  • 2 - Margaret Mead 19
  • 3 - Magicians in the PSI Lab 25
  • 4 - Shirley MacLaine 32
  • 5 - Freud, Fliess, and Emma's Nose 38
  • 6 - Koestler Money Down the Psi Drain? 44
  • 7 - Targ: From Puthoff to Blue 50
  • 8 - The Relevance of Belief Systems 57
  • 9 - Welcome to the Debunking Club 65
  • 10 - The Great Stone Face 72
  • 11 - From Phillips to Morris 79
  • 12 - George McCready Price 93
  • 13 - Wonders of Science 99
  • 14 - Tommy Gold 103
  • 15 - Rupert Sheldrake 109
  • 16 - The Anomalies of Chip Arp 115
  • 17 - Thoughts on Superstrings 119
  • 18 - The Third Eye 123
  • 19 - Irving Kristol and the Facts of Life 129
  • Part 2 135
  • 20 - The Great SRI Die Mystery 137
  • 21 - Perpetual Motion 145
  • 22 - Psychic Surgery 167
  • 23 - 666 and All That 170
  • 24 - D. D. Home-Sweet-Home 175
  • 25 - PK (Psycho-Krap) 179
  • 26 - Chicanery in Science 182
  • 27 - Fools' Paradigms 184
  • 28 - Look, Shirl, No Hands! 188
  • 29 - The Channeling Mania 202
  • 30 - Who Was Ray Palmer? 209
  • 31 - Prime-Time Preachers 223
  • 32 - L. Ron Hubbard 246
  • 33 - Psychic Astronomy 252
  • Name Index 265
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