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Criminologists be (allegedly) crimin’ . . . and a statistical New Year’s toast for you.

Someone who wishes to remain anonymous points us to this video, writing:

It has to do with Stewart at FSU, in criminology. Couldn’t produce a survey that was the basis for 5 papers, all retracted. FSU though still failed to do complete investigation. The preliminary investigation had a 3 person panel, 2 of whom were repeat co-authors with Stewart, violating their own protocols. So as far as FSU is concerned he is cleared. Story is bad on every level. And as usual, it is the whistleblower who suffers, in this instance a co-author who began to have second thoughts.

Thought this might interest you, not just the fraud but also the regulatory capture.

I replied that I’m too impatient to watch videos, so he sent me this text link, which starts with the following quick summary:

1. No funding source for $100,000+ survey
2. 60% response rate for a telephone survey
3. Changing origin story from Stewart: Grad school buddies (2018) -> Research Network (2019)
4. Marc Gertz cryptic validation of the 2013 survey (2019)
5. Marc Gertz in 2018 denies doing the survey
6. Stewart never provided the RAW data to FSU, John Smith or his co-authors
7. Jake Bratton went on the record saying all public surveys available were from 2000-2009
8. Jake Bratton says TRN closed in 2010 -> impossible for TRN to do the 2013 survey
9. FSU ignored its own policies of data sequestration
10. FSU ignored its own policies of avoiding co-authors on an investigation committee.

This all sounded familiar, something I’d posted on. But I googled all sorts of things and couldn’t find it on the blog. Then I realized: the blog delay! Someone had emailed me about this story in June 2019, I posted on it in October 2019, and the post is scheduled for March 2020.

The post is titled, “You don’t want a criminal journal… you want a criminal journal,” and it begins as follows:

“You don’t want a criminal lawyer… you want a criminal lawyer.” — Jesse Pinkman.

In what sense is it a “blood sport” to ask someone for their data?

That’s our question for the day. But it’ll take us a few paragraphs to get there.

You can read the full story in March. But maybe events will have overtaken it by then.

I told my correspondent about the forthcoming post and he responded:

Glad you are covering it. It is not just the fraud by the scientist, more so it is the institutional response. The video does have a quick interview with a vice-chancellor from Duke on why they didn’t act sooner on the fraud there. Doesn’t exactly give you an encouraging feeling.

The good news

It’s good to know that some people care enough about this to go to the trouble of making videos and writing articles about this and other cases. Yes, there are the corporate and university bureaucrats and pencil pushers, Association for Psychological Science-style apparatchiks who duck, dodge, and retaliate against dissent and who, ironically, call us names like terrorist and Stasi when we’re so uncivil as to point out errors in the published work of bigshots and their friends. But there are Javerts out there who are bothered by this network of deniers and apologists.

It’s horrible to be ending the year with all these stories about fraud in science. Let’s hope that 2020 is, as Simine Vazire hopes, “the year in which we value those who ensure that science is self-correcting.”

This new year’s eve, let’s toast to a reproducible generative Bayesian workflow! This works also for those of you who don’t use Bayesian methods. The key step is planning and understanding your methods using fake-data simulation: in that sense, replicability is central to the ideas of frequentist and Bayesian statistics.

9 Comments

  1. Dale Lehman says:

    The researcher in question teaches a research methods course. I found this interesting section on his syllabus:
    ACADEMIC HONESTY
    You are encouraged to learn and apply yourself in a way that promotes respect for yourself and others. Students are expected to conduct themselves with scholarly integrity. Any type of scholastic dishonesty is prohibited. If any of the following are suspected, appropriate and formal action will be taken: Cheating (intentionally using or attempting to use unauthorized material, information or study aids in any academic exercise); Fabrication (intentional and unauthorized falsification or invention of any information or citation in an academic exercise); Facilitating academic dishonesty (intentionally or knowingly helping or attempting to help another to violate any provision of the academic code); and Plagiarism (intentionally or knowingly representing words/ideas of another as your own). Perpetrators will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of FSU regulations. Students are responsible for reading the Academic Honor Policy and for living up to their pledge to “… be honest and truthful and … [to] strive for personal and institutional integrity at Florida State University” (Florida State University Academic Honor Policy, found at http://fda.fsu.edu/academic-resources/academic-integrity-and-grievances/academic-honor-policy).

  2. LemmusLemmus says:

    I guess point no. 1 pretty much settles it.

  3. Andrew says:

    If Deadspin still existed, maybe we could get them to run this as a sports story. FSU has enough teams that there’s gotta be a hook somewhere.

  4. Eli Rabett says:

    Marc Gertz of Gertz and Kleck? There is real crimein goin on

    https://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/1998/06/04/dgu-00037

  5. digithead says:

    It’s Stewart at FSU that can’t produce the data, not Sullivan.

  6. aardvark says:

    yes, its stewart. the sullivan thing confused and is a typo that should be corrected.

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