VSL:SCIENCE // When scientists go bad

If you care about how scientific experiments are done — or, sometimes, cooked — be sure to get your hands on Horace Freeland Judson’s The Great Betrayal: Fraud in Science: You won’t soon forget the rakes and rogues you’ll meet here.

Judson’s cast of characters includes a dermatologist who claims he can graft skin from black mice to white — but turns out to have colored the grafts with a Sharpie. Another scientist creates bogus data before the very eyes of his stunned colleagues. And a Nobel Prize winner defends the publication of a co-author’s concocted data by saying it’s the scientific community’s job to verify it. The author argues that the high-stakes, high-reward world of scientific research has meshed with the general culture of truthiness to create an unprecedented surge in scientific fraud. The causes vary widely, from professional insularity to the lack of hard-copy data trails, but the sordid endings all look the same: bogus data, a failed defense, and, usually, another line of work.

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