Chronicle on Marc Hauser

Big update on the Marc Hauser affair, and the seriousness of the research misconduct allegations and the irony of this from the author of Moral Minds. The Chronicle for Higher Education has a piece out today which sheds light on the internal investigation and the assertions by research assistants in Hauser’s Harvard lab of misconduct.

The research assistant who analyzed the data and the graduate student decided to review the tapes themselves, without Mr. Hauser’s permission, the document says. They each coded the results independently. Their findings concurred with the conclusion that the experiment had failed: The monkeys didn’t appear to react to the change in patterns.

They then reviewed Mr. Hauser’s coding and, according to the research assistant’s statement, discovered that what he had written down bore little relation to what they had actually observed on the videotapes. He would, for instance, mark that a monkey had turned its head when the monkey didn’t so much as flinch. It wasn’t simply a case of differing interpretations, they believed: His data were just completely wrong.

Here’s the link for more – Document Sheds Light on Investigation at Harvard

And if you’re looking for more background, Nicholas Wade at the NY Times had a very good piece a week ago, In Harvard Lab Inquiry, a Raid and 3-Year Wait.

Update: Nicholas Wade came out with further coverage at NYT in the article Harvard Finds Scientist Guilty of Misconduct.

Harvard University said Friday that it had found a prominent researcher, Marc Hauser, “solely responsible” for eight instances of scientific misconduct.

Hours later, Dr. Hauser, a rising star for his explorations into cognition and morality, made his first public statement since news of the inquiry emerged last week, telling The New York Times, “I acknowledge that I made some significant mistakes” and saying he was “deeply sorry for the problems this case had caused to my students, my colleagues and my university.”

Also, you can find the entire letter/email here sent by Harvard Dean Michael Smith to the faculty, where he confirms the scientific misconduct to the entire Faculty of Arts and Sciences

John Hawks Massive Human Evolution Bibliography Online

John Hawks, who runs the excellent John Hawks Weblog, has placed his entire collection of 11,500 citations online. He describes the bibliography in his announcement of this wonderful new feature to his blog:

At present this database includes more than 11,500 entries. These represent a large fraction of the historical and contemporary literature in human evolution…

The bibliography has a search filter, search terms will match author, keyword, title or abstract (where present). With more than 11,000 entries, you want to be a little selective about how you search. Author names work really well, and yield a list separated by year of publication.

You’ll find each reference preceded by a unique citation key in brackets. I did this purely for my own convenience, but for those who may want to download lists of citations, it may also prove useful.

A list of search results can be exported to BibTeX or RTF format for download.

There is also a “filter” tab that allows keyword, author, and year filtering of the list. This is really not very useful; the size of the database makes it much simpler to search than to filter all entries.

Link to John Hawks Bibliography

Link to Hawks Announcement and Description of the Online Bibliography

The drawing above is also by John, and I quite liked it. Here’s the link to its original posting over at his Weblog.

Matthew Taylor on human psychology and political change

One of my students, Nikolas Dawson, hipped me to these nifty animated videos developed from lectures at the RSA, the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce, ‘a cradle of enlightenment thinking and a force for social progress.’ My student was pointing out a video about recent financial crises, RSA Animate – Crises of Capitalism, that combined an edited version of a David Harvey lecture with great animation, but in the process of poking around their website, I realized that there’s an interesting clip for readers at Neuroanthropology.net.

The video is ‘RSA Animate Matthew Taylor: Left brain, right brain,’ and fortunately, it has virtually nothing to say about ‘left brain’ or ‘right brain,’ but is instead a very interesting discussion of the relation between human psychology and the possibility of social and political change. In addition, the animation is great!

The video is linked to the RSA’s project, The Social Brain, which is a platform for a number of expert speakers to discuss how the things we’re learning about the brain help us to understand a range of social issues. If you want to watch the whole video, but without the animation, you can go to YouTube recording of the whole lecture: Matthew Taylor – Left Brain, Right Brain: Human nature and political values. Matthew Taylor has his own blog as well.

The RSA website also has a piece by our colleague, Joan Chiao, ‘Face Value.’ Chiao discusses why some societies seem to prefer hierarchical governments, and others prefer leadership that promotes great egalitarianism, as well as some of the relationship between research on facial preferences and democratic decision making. She concludes:

This cultural diversity in political preferences and structures is proof that our evolutionary instincts for social hierarchy are not cultural destiny and that, through knowledge of where we come from and imagination about whom we may become, we can come closer to building a society with consideration and compassion for all.

For more information about the RSA, especially the Social Brain project, you can read below.

Continue reading “Matthew Taylor on human psychology and political change”

Post-Doc at UCLA Culture, Brain, and Development Program

The Foundation for Psychocultural Research is offering a post-doctoral fellowship in interdisciplinary studies with a focus on “Culture & Disability: Autism Spectrum Disorder in India & the United States.” The start date is as early as the selected candidate can begin. The post-doc will work with Dr. Thomas Weisner, and be a part of the FPR-UCLA Culture, Brain, Development and Mental Health Program.

Applicants must have a doctoral or M.D. degree and should have interest in pursuing a career involving interdisciplinary research in psychology, culture, human development, family research, neuroscience and psychiatry. The research will involve substantial engagement in the new FPR-UCLA Culture Brain, Development, and Mental Health program, which includes integrative research on neurobiology, culture, child development, and psychopathology. The focus of this call for applications is the project on Culture & Disability: Autism Spectrum Disorder in India & the United States, Thomas S. Weisner, director, Tamara Daley, co-PI.

For more information, you can find all the details on the project, application process, and more at the Culture & Disability website.