This book is, in a sense, the culmination of a lifetime spent in science and in science administration at the California Institute of Technology, where I've been a professor of physics and applied physics for more than forty years. In 1988,I became Caltech's vice provost, and soon after I settled into my new office I found myself in charge of all cases of scientific misconduct, real or imagined, that arose at the institute. After a number of years in this arcane field, I decided to avail myself of one the great privileges that comes with being a professor—the opportunity to share new knowledge—and I proposed, along with my colleague Jim Woodward, a professor of philosophy, to teach a course in scientific fraud. At least that's what we wanted to call it, but the institute's Faculty Board, in its wisdom, didn't want us teaching anything with that title to the students. So we wound up calling our new course “Scientific Ethics” and taught it annually for the next ten years.
When I stepped down from the vice provost's position in 2007,I realized that I now had the time to acquaint a much larger audience with these issues, by writing a book. Regardless of whether we call our subject fraud or ethics, this book will be a series of personal reflections on the topic, focusing on cases in which I have been involved during my career. Some of these are likely to be new to readers, while others will be familiar but enlivened, I hope, by the introduction of new material.