The Situationist

Mark Hauser Resigns

Posted by The Situationist Staff on July 27, 2011

From Harvard Magazine:

Professor of psychology Marc D. Hauser, who was found “solely responsible” for eight counts of scientific misconduct last year, is resigning effective August 1, according to a letter dated July 7 that was published in the Boston Globe yesterday.

Hauser’s letter (PDF) did not mention the misconduct findings; he wrote that he planned to tackle “new and interesting challenges” including “work focusing on the educational needs of at-risk teenagers” and “exciting opportunities in the private sector.”

“During my eighteen years at Harvard, it has been a great pleasure to teach so many bright and talented students and to work with so many dedicated colleagues,” Hauser wrote. “I will greatly miss them.”

Hauser studies animal cognition as a window into the evolution of the human mind. For the past year, he has been on a leave of absence that the University has still not confirmed was connected to the investigation of his research practices. He had planned to return this fall, but last spring the psychology faculty voted to bar him from teaching, and his scheduled courses were canceled. (At last report, Viking Penguin still planned to publish Hauser’s next book, Evilicious: Explaining Our Evolved Taste for Being Bad.)

Last August, Faculty of Arts and Sciences Dean Michael D. Smith said five of the eight misconduct counts related to studies that were not published, or in which problems were corrected prior to publication. Of the other three cases, one was retracted. Hauser and a colleague repeated parts of the other two experiments, producing results that replicated the originally published findings. Some viewed this as an exoneration, while others said the new findings did not put to rest the questions Harvard raised about research practices in Hauser’s lab; still others said Harvard released so few details that it was difficult to draw conclusions.

More details may still emerge; Smith said last year that Harvard was cooperating with investigations by federal research funding bodies, but those investigations (which the agencies have not officially confirmed) have not produced public findings.

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