The Chronicle of Higher Education has published this article, which sheds more light on the alleged misconduct committed by Harvard’s Marc Hauser.
It was one experiment in particular that led members of Mr. Hauser’s lab to become suspicious of his research and, in the end, to report their concerns about the professor to Harvard administrators…
Researchers watched videotapes of the experiments and “coded” the results, meaning that they wrote down how the monkeys reacted. As was common practice, two researchers independently coded the results so that their findings could later be compared to eliminate errors or bias.
According to the document that was provided to The Chronicle, the experiment in question was coded by Mr. Hauser and a research assistant in his laboratory. A second research assistant was asked by Mr. Hauser to analyze the results. When the second research assistant analyzed the first research assistant’s codes, he found that the monkeys didn’t seem to notice the change in pattern. In fact, they looked at the speaker more often when the pattern was the same. In other words, the experiment was a bust.
But Mr. Hauser’s coding showed something else entirely: He found that the monkeys did notice the change in pattern—and, according to his numbers, the results were statistically significant. If his coding was right, the experiment was a big success.
The second research assistant was bothered by the discrepancy. How could two researchers watching the same videotapes arrive at such different conclusions?