Tuesday, June 16, 2015

L'Affaire LaCour

The Chronicle of Higher Education
June 16th, 2015

In June I was at a small conference of social scientists, meeting in the Utah mountains. The setting was beautiful, the meals memorable. But all we talked about was l’affaire LaCour.
The actual events have been described elsewhere, including here in The Chronicle. In short: An influential article published in Science by Michael J. LaCour, an up-and-coming young scholar, and his co-author, Donald P. Green, a senior scholar at Columbia University, was revealed to have been based on fabricated data.
Political scientists are already defensive about our status as a "science," of course. National Science Foundation funding has several times been held up for questioning (at least) by Congress, and our technique and the status of our data are often debated in departments and graduate courses. What does this recent controversy mean for my discipline? I want to offer a two-part answer, personal pessimism and general optimism.

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