Copyright (c) 2004 University of Wisconsin Law School
Wisconsin Law Review
COMMENT: PULP FICTION: REFLECTIONS ON SCIENTIFIC MISCONDUCT
2004 Wis. L. Rev. 975
Bratislav Stankovic *
A long, long time ago, "an aging despot ... called in a succession of science advisors" hoping to hear from them that he could live forever. 2 One after another, the advisors told the king that what he desired was impossible; the price for the advisors' "scientific candor" was their heads. 3 One day, the despot "struck pay dirt with a pharmacist who promised that with one pill he could guarantee [that] the tyrant would never grow a day older." 4 Indeed, "the one pill was cyanide," and the despot "never grew a day older." 5
The foregoing tale captures, albeit in a dramatic fashion, the argument on scientific 6 misconduct presented herein. The problem of scientific dishonesty has attracted increased attention in recent years, correlating with a swell of reports on distressing incidents of scientific misconduct 7 and making science appear increasingly similar to the accounting industry. Gone are the days when "voodoo science" 8 could be viewed as the work of the mad rather than the bad, and the early sensationalism of misconduct cases has evolved into a research community that is regularly plagued with instances of misconduct. The public's trust in science as a discipline and scientists' integrity has been challenged by reports of data falsification, plagiarism, and misrepresentation of research results. 9 In a cynical realm of our society, we might permit certain professions to skirt the periphery of truth. On the other hand, our societal norms demand absolute honesty from ...
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