Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Why Do Scientists Cheat?

"If you're not in first place, you're no place," says one bioethicist in an article in the Christian Science Monitor about what it calls "a year of research ethics challenges."

The springboard for the piece by reporter Peter Spotts is the Korean affair. But Spott recounted scientific scandals at the Veterans Administration, MIT and the University of Vermont.

He also dealt with dubious dealings at NIH.
"In a survey of NIH-funded scientists, released in June, only 1.5 percent of 3,000-plus respondents acknowledged having falsified or plagiarized information. But 15.5 percent admitted to altering their research approach under pressure from funding sources, and 12.5 percent admitted to looking the other way when colleagues used flawed data."
The comment about "first place" came from Thomas Murray, president of the Hastings Center, a bioethics institute in New York state. He noted that scientists have the usual human failings but work in an intense environment where only the best ideas rise to the top. He did not say "perceived" best ideas, but he should have.

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