Another ‘Beyond Satire’ story falls on our lap, this time through dishonest fakery of the most deplorable kind — faking science. Imagine a scientist who supposedly dedicates their entire career to studying the field of ‘honest behaviour’ suddenly having the acrid spotlight of dishonesty and fakery shone upon themselves. Yes, it is beyond satire in a scientific manner that is truly astonishing with its shameful despicable indignity.
The Harvard Business School Behavioural scientist Francesca Gino has been placed under academic leave after her colleagues found out she fabricated study results and falsified data in a 2012 study in which Gino and two other behavioural scientists concluded that people who sign honesty pledges before filling out forms are more likely to be truthful than those who sign them after completing said forms.
The study in question was published by the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and featured data from an insurance company that looked into whether clients accurately reported mileage and other key figures.
“There is very strong evidence that the data were fabricated,” researchers at the blog DataColada wrote in their then-anonymous 2021 post about the study.
A month after the blog post was published, the journal retracted the offending study.
Though the paper itself suggests that its data points were directly submitted by consumers, the bloggers said that an Excel file lead them to believe someone connected to the study had tampered with its results.
As Wharton behavioural scientist Maurice Schweitzer told the NYT, this debacle has created “reverberations in the academic community” because Gino has “so many collaborators, so many articles, who is really a leading scholar in the field.”
Scientists fabricating data in their research studies is not an unknown concept, however academics who specifically study the field of ‘honesty’ and are ‘dishonest’ in collating their data is certainly a unique ‘Beyond Satire‘ moment in time.
Maybe Francesca Gino should consider a career change from science to politics?