govandteachers

Blaming Government for Teacher and Scientist Failures in Integrity

The article, “Governmental policy is wrecking science,” makes some interesting points but is fundamentally in error, because government policy is only a small part of the problem. The government is depending on scientists and teachers to police students and each other regarding scientific and academic integrity.  To a harmful extent, scientists and teachers are failing to effectively carry out this trust.

Scientist FailuresCatching plagiarism has gotten much easier in the past few years due to automated detection software.  Students are having a hard time fooling it. Most scientific publishers are using it now.  But it only works if teachers use it.

Catching fake data is often straightforward, but it requires paying attention and running a few statistical and possibly other tests. Back in 2008, my wife and I caught errors in a biomechanics paper and published a reply because it was obvious in the graphs that the data violated the Work-Energy theorem. My wife and her colleagues recently published a comment pointing out data dishonesty in an important bone paper. Something smelled fishy, so she asked me to read it. I agreed and encouraged her to dig deeper. She dug up the Master’s thesis with the original data and uncovered the sleight of hand. In 2010, I caught an atomic physics paper that had copied several paragraphs verbatim (without attribution) from one of my papers from the 1990s. Instead of a retraction, the editors let it slide with a corrigendum and citation after the fact.

We also caught errors in the weight-length data at Fishbase.org and published a paper on it in 2010 or 2011. In this case, my wife alerted me that something was afoul, and some cadets at the Air Force Academy made a project out of it under my oversight.  The database editors vilified us for pointing it out, but they have since gotten a lot better at error checking and correction. We later traced most of the errors to a single source: one of the most cited handbooks on freshwater fisheries biology.

Similarly, we caught a number of both scientific and statistical errors in a 2011 Fishery Bulletin paper on magnetoreception in fish.  The editor published an erratum correcting the statistical errors but declined to publish our comment pointing out the unsupported claims in the abstract and other scientific errors.  There was no suggestion our comment was wrong, but the journal simply has an editorial policy of not publishing comments that bring to light scientific errors in their papers.  Refusing to publish corrections for clear scientific errors is a failure of scientific integrity that falls on scientific authors and editors rather than the government.

Not every correction needs to happen in the public arena. When erroneous or falsified data have been published, then a public correction is appropriate and may be the only way to prevent the propagation of the error. However, sometimes a correction can be made timely to avoid a public error. For example, my wife was reading a paper in her field of research that was available online in “pre-print” form prior to publication. She noticed an error in the results tables and contacted the primary author privately in case there was time to correct it before others in the field would be evaluating and applying the results. Happily, in that situation, the author thanked my wife and confirmed that there was time to correct the error prior to final publication. Within research groups, we can help each other by evaluating data critically – not to undermine any individual but to help maintain both scientific integrity and the reputations of all involved by sharing the goals of correct results and appropriate interpretation.

However, colleagues and I have also had numerous situations where we’ve pointed out scientific or academic error or misconduct, and nothing was done. In addition to having letters to journal editors ignored in cases of clear published errors, there is also a battle for integrity in the schools.  The absence of negative feedback has the effect of training students in poor behavior early on.  We learned of a student texting answers to other students during a science test. The student admitted doing so but refused to name others (recipients of the texts). The department of the North Carolina public school refused to investigate further or attempt to find out who benefited from the cheating. Not even the admitted cheater received any consequence.  We’ve seen a pattern of failures in academic and scientific integrity in North Carolina (such as the UNC athlete cheating scandal).

When I taught at the Air Force Academy, things were handled better. Even if the process failed to bring a disciplinary consequence to the student, an academic consequence could be brought by the instructor and department head by meeting a more likely-than-not standard of evidence. The Math department head always supported a teacher recommendation of a zero for cheating on any graded event.

When I ran a cadet research program, I terminated cadet participation in the research program immediately and permanently when it became clear that a student had faked data or otherwise committed academic dishonesty. Even when a superior (not in the math department) recommended a gentler approach to allow for a “learning experience,” I terminated participation in the program, because I thought a firmer response was needed to bring the lesson home and protect the integrity of the program.

I have a sharp eye for data, and I run a number of statistical and common-sense checks on student data and analysis. I may be the only professor I know who repeats student analysis at every step in most projects under my supervision. I have developed a good sense of what “too good to be true” looks like and what kinds of uncertainties can be expected given the experimental conditions and sample sizes. In my mentoring of science projects, students know from the beginning that I have zero tolerance for violations of academic and scientific integrity and that I am double-checking their data and analysis closely.

It is interesting to note that the original article cites Ernst Haeckel but fails to note his well-known fraudulent embryo drawings.  I recall stirring up controversy in a guest lecture to a biology class in the last decade by pointing out their modern-day textbook was still using the errant Haeckel drawings.  The drawings and the associated recapitulation theory have been considered in error for over 100 years, so it is something of a mystery how they can appear in modern textbooks without hordes of teachers and scientists objecting.

If you teach laboratories, what consideration have you given to making it harder for students to fake data?  I mentor a number of students on ISEF-type research projects and undergraduate research, so I get their feedback frequently on how their lab science classes are going.  Some of their teachers are really getting out in front of scientific integrity by designing lab experiments with an auditable data path from the original execution of the experiment to the graded lab report. This approach is analogous to requirements some journals and funding agencies have that data be published in a repository.  In some cases, lab instructors are even requiring students to take pictures while executing experiments.  It’s much harder to fake data if there are time-stamped data files with the original data as well as time-stamped pictures of the experiment in progress.  Sure, someone will be smart enough to fool any accountability system, but putting a good system in place keeps students from thinking they somehow have tacit approval to manufacture data because they don’t just need to fake the data, they need to intentionally subvert the accountability system.

It’s too easy to blame the government.  They have entrusted matters of academic and scientific integrity to the diligence of teachers and scientists. We should all be doing our part in our respective areas of work to maintain integrity.  How many scientists and students have you busted in the past decade?

 

 

46 replies
  1. Dr. Courtney says:

    [QUOTE="Mark Harder, post: 5656718, member: 528112"]   The term 'politically incorrect' bothers me.  It's usage is the problem.  Taken literally, it should mean any dissent from the prevailing views of politics and society.  If that were the case, it would apply to leftists who espouse belief sharply at variance from the mainstream.  During the primary campaign this (past) year, Bernard Sanders was subject to ridicule by the MSM for some of his statements, to take one example.  Yet, the term 'politically incorrect' was never applied to him (AFAIK).  It's a political debating trick:  You're politically correct if you are belong to the political center-to-left wing.  You're politically incorrect if you are conservative only, and therefore unfairly persecuted by all those PC liberals.  I propose we return to 'dissenter', 'dissenting', 'unorthodox' and other thesaurus entries as substitutes for 'PC' and 'P. in-C'.[/QUOTE]In the context of science and education, politically incorrect refers to a subset of dissenting viewpoints that relate to issues of public policy; therefore, the term is more descriptive than merely "dissenting" or "unorthodox."For example, beginning a decade ago, my wife and I published a series of papers articulating the "unorthodox" viewpoint that bullet hits to the chest could cause traumatic brain injury through action at a distance through a pressure wave effect. ( See: https://arxiv.org/ftp/arxiv/papers/0808/0808.1443.pdf )  This was definitely dissenting from the mainstream view that the only bullet injuries were close to the bullet.  The view we articulated has become much more widely accepted over the past decade, and those holding the older view are closer to becoming the minority of dissenting voices.  (Experimental evidence will do that.)  So while there is some division among federal agencies on which view is right (Army and Border Patrol favor the pressure wave effect, FBI still seems to doubt), it's more of a scientific debate without political overtones.In contrast, consider the question of how bad nutrient loading is for the Gulf of Mexico.  Some authors think it is very bad and are pushing a public policy agenda to strong arm farmers to greatly reduce fertilizer use throughout the Mississippi River watershed.  Colleagues and I have pointed out that this nutrient loading greatly increases fishery production in Louisiana Gulf waters, and that the relatively small, temporary areas of bottom water hypoxia are not serious enough to signficantly harm the fishery.  (See: https://arxiv.org/ftp/arxiv/papers/1306/1306.5114.pdf ).  We've also pointed out published errors by NOAA and errant predictions by some of the big authors in the field.  Our work in this field was not just dissenting, it was politically incorrect, because it had the effect of making calls for drastic public policy measures seem less urgent.Purveyors of the opposing view have not taken it well.  In fact, back in 2013, we were invited to the LUMCON facility in Cocodrie, Louisiana to perform an experiment on magnetoreception in fish.  When the higher officials at LUMCON realized that dissenters to their nutrient loading paradigm had been invited, we were summarily uninvited.  Our magnetoreception experiment was delayed and eventually performed in SW Louisiana instead of in Cocodrie.  Happily, we still discovered magnetoreception in three new species of teleost (bony) fish.  Unhappily, this result is somewhat politically incorrect as well, since NOAA and some environmentalist groups are pushing to require magnetic hooks on longlines based on the theory that magnetic hooks will reduce shark bycatch without impacting catch rates of target teleost species.One more example of dissention that is not politically incorrect.  When I arrived at MIT in 1989, the research group I was joining had just published a paper purporting to provide experimental support for the widely held notion that systems that were classically regular (not chaotic) have a certain kind of energy level statistics (Poisson distribution).  See: http://journals.aps.org/prl/abstract/10.1103/PhysRevLett.62.893  I didn't question the experimental result, I questioned the assumption that the underlying classical dynamics was regular.  In time, I proved that the underlying dynamics was chaotic, and that the experimental evidence originally thought to support a widely held notion, in fact provided a disproof by counterexample.  See: http://journals.aps.org/pra/abstract/10.1103/PhysRevA.53.178 .  Since there was no public policy issue at stake, the new result was quickly accepted.  More importantly, the lithium Stark system was recognized as chaotic also (due to the core) and became a valuable test case for different ideas in quantum chaos.  See: http://journals.aps.org/pra/abstract/10.1103/PhysRevA.51.3604

  2. anorlunda says:

    Thanks for the insightful post #45 [USER=117790]@Dr. Courtney[/USER]. Reading it made me think of the technological singularity.I get there by reducing everything you said (forgive me for that) to a simple time constant that we can ascribe to ego, or humanity.   Then, I think back to the point kinetics equations that I used in nuclear engineering.   Where you have a positive feedback, exponential growth results.  But even a modest time constant in the feedback loop greatly moderates the rate of growth.  So on a broad scale, scientific advancement is moderated by the humanity of scientists.   But when AI really gets going in science it will have a much shorter moderating time constant,  simply by virtue of objectivity.    That would suggest an increase in the rate of ggrowth of science so dramatic that we might describe it as an overnight explosion,  That is exactly what the proponents of the singularity claim.Note that human-like intelligence or self consciousness of the AI is not necessary.  Indeed, inhumanity is its strength.

  3. Dr. Courtney says:

    [QUOTE="anorlunda, post: 5656650, member: 455902"]In that case, there can be cases where it takes uncommon  courage and character to not fake results to avoid violating a taboo.The flip side of that coin is that the lay public has some grounds to be suspicious of mainstream science that supports the taboos.  Perhaps we shouldn't always be in a hurry to label such people as ignorant or anti-science.[/QUOTE]Rather than assign labels, my training and instincts lead me to try and find the most direct path from the assertions to the supporting data.  In cases where the issues seem to devolve more into an argument from authority (and ambiguous data), I am skeptical.  In cases where there may be alternate explanations for the available data, I am skeptical.  In cases where the publications obscure the data, I am skeptical.  But it has become popular to label skeptics as "deniers."The word "taboo" is probably a good choice for the negative feedback expected for publishing data or possible interpretations that run counter to certain public policy goals.  Faking data does seem to happen occasionally, but as I mentioned earlier, other forms of scientific dishonesty seem more common:The scientific dishonesty can often be more subtle such as: A. publishing data agreeing with a model in journals and with press releases, while keeping data in disagreement under wraps or harder to find.B. publishing data supporting desired policy change (or funding) quickly while delaying data not supporting desired policy change (or funding)C. careless or willful misuse of sources: making overly broad or different claims than those well supported in citationsD. Focus on one possible causal factor while ignoring other possibilitiesE. Confusing failing to find support for a competing hypothesis in an experiment with disproof of that hypothesisF. Publishing conclusions without a clear path and access to the raw experimental data and analysis that supports those conclusions. Without the data, it is a dishonest appeal to the authors' authority rather than a scientific result.Muddying the water in these ways lengthens the effective correction time to as long as 25-50 years in many cases.  Insistence on data and repeatable experiment eventually correct scientific mistakes and outright fraud.  Censorship, professional consequences, and funding consequences are only effective in the short term.  They erode public trust and can lead to bad policy decisions for a time.  Many science enthusiasts recognize that the scientific method is self-correcting, but they often forget the many lessons in the history of science that show that it often takes a while for a consensus view to be overthrown with new data.There is one field where I have published in where an old guard are reusing to accept that they were wrong based on new data.  I suspect that they will continue propagating their views until they retire and pass on.  Cases like this often define the longer time constants for scientific error correction.  Colleagues and I have taken an approach of, "If you see something, say something" in terms of correcting scientific errors.  We'll go ahead and publish a comment if we find published errors in the literature.  As in the case above where we pointed out the consistent errors in the model predicting the area of hypoxic bottom water each year in the Gulf of Mexico, the mistaken authors are slow to acknowledge why they fixed their model, but in many cases they do work to fix their model.

  4. Mark Harder says:

    They might be "politically incorrect" in the opinion of the majority of the public and their colleagues.  That doesn't mean they're widely discredited simply because they and their work are politically incorrect.  As for career suicide, some cases, like denial of climate warming, are not quite suicidal. If you write a book making your case, and it has an audience among the public, then you have been successful in at least that sense.  And yes, you can find publishers who will accept your books, assuming the book is grammatically and stylistically well-written and the author is willing to consider his editor's requests.  Some publisher accepted Bell Curve for publication and the book was widely read.  If one's thesis isn't popular in academic and government circles and if his/her publication record is considered inferior by one's intellectual community, then one may very well have career difficulties, esp. if they aren't in a tenured position of some sort (This is one reason our universities have tenured positions – tenured faculty can't be fired based on the content of their intellectual output. )  As for the effect of books and other intellectual output on one's career, Herrnstein died while on the faculty of Harvard (1994, age 64).  Murray is currently a fellow of the American Enterprise Institute, a prominent, conservatively oriented "think tank".  He has won many awards and other honors.  I think it's safe to assume that with that widespread regard, he's not hurting for money.   The term 'politically incorrect' bothers me.  It's usage is the problem.  Taken literally, it should mean any dissent from the prevailing views of politics and society.  If that were the case, it would apply to leftists who espouse belief sharply at variance from the mainstream.  During the primary campaign this (past) year, Bernard Sanders was subject to ridicule by the MSM for some of his statements, to take one example.  Yet, the term 'politically incorrect' was never applied to him (AFAIK).  It's a political debating trick:  You're politically correct if you are belong to the political center-to-left wing.  You're politically incorrect if you are conservative only, and therefore unfairly persecuted by all those PC liberals.  I propose we return to 'dissenter', 'dissenting', 'unorthodox' and other thesaurus entries as substitutes for 'PC' and 'P. in-C'.

  5. mheslep says:

    [QUOTE="Dr. Courtney, post: 5656546, member: 117790"]I've had some colleagues decline invitations to join projects as co-authors. Their expressed reasons are not that the project is not interesting or that the results are not correct, but rather that they were concerned with negative career implications of politically incorrect results.[/QUOTE]Tragic. That's long been true I believe in the social sciences. When  I was in grad school (engineering), to my mind  the only topic that might have  been considered politically incorrect in the hard sciences was anything related  to nuclear weapons.

  6. anorlunda says:

    In that case, there can be cases where it takes uncommon  courage and character to not fake results to avoid violating a taboo.The flip side of that coin is that the lay public has some grounds to be suspicious of mainstream science that supports the taboos.  Perhaps we shouldn't always be in a hurry to label such people as ignorant or anti-science.

  7. Dr. Courtney says:

    [QUOTE="anorlunda, post: 5656521, member: 455902"]Are there not times when scientific results are politically incorrect to the degree that it would be career suicide to report results contrary to the majority opinion?Anti-global-warming is one case that comes to mind.The Bell Curve, by  Richard J. Herrnstein and Charles Murray is another.[/QUOTE]It's possible.  Anyone publishing results that the anti-vax movement could use to bolster their position would be treading on thin ice.  I'd have a back-up plan to a tenure-track faculty position if publishing results that were unfavorable to gun control or favorable to fracking.  There are several politically-charged subjects related to science in the Gulf of Mexico that I have co-authored papers on: red snapper population dynamics, nutrient loading, the purported "dead zone."  There are kinds of results in these three areas that it seems like those in academic positions and federal government agencies tend to avoid publishing. Owning a scientific consulting company where 75% of our revenue is in unrelated (Dept of Defense) type consulting gives a lot more freedom to not censor our results with a politically correct filter.I've had some colleagues decline invitations to join projects as co-authors.  Their expressed reasons are not that the project is not interesting or that the results are not correct, but rather that they were concerned with negative career implications of politically incorrect results.  At the same time, some students we've mentored have received negative feedback from University officials that the DoD-related projects they worked with on were "too militaristic."  So apparently, working on certain DoD projects may also put one in a zone of political incorrectness with potential negative consequences in academia.

  8. anorlunda says:

    Are there not times when scientific results are politically incorrect to the degree that it would be career suicide to report results contrary to the majority opinion.

    Anti-global-warming is one case that comes to mind.
    The Bell Curve, by Richard J. Herrnstein and Charles Murray is another.

  9. Dr. Courtney says:

    [QUOTE="mheslep, post: 5597572, member: 70823"]Like corporate execs in a monopoly or subsidized market perhaps, otherwise no.  Top heavy companies that perform poorly  against competition in open markets have their management dismantled or otherwise have the company cut up.  There is no such threat to the traditional university system supplied by billions in student loans, immunity to property taxes, etc.[/QUOTE]Exactly right.  The higher educational system has the flow of money mostly under control of the students rather than the real customers (taxpayers and future employers).  We are rapidly approaching the day when a most college degrees will be worth less than most high school degrees were worth in the 1980s.  But they cost the taxpayer 10-20 times more.

  10. HAYAO says:

    [QUOTE="Mark Harder, post: 5597300, member: 528112"]Education is not like fattening a goose.  You can't just force feed "knowledge" to the student, who is a passive participant at best, a determined opponent at worst.  This misunderstanding engenders another one – if a student fails, it's the teacher's fault.  When you get right down to it, the responsibility for educating a student lies principally in the student.  IMHO, telling them that, for reasons discussed in this thread, they are entitled to a positive result (i.e. a license to make money) from their education is a very big part of the problem, and the source of excessive leniency in education.[/QUOTE]Wholeheartedly agree.

  11. Dr. Courtney says:

    [QUOTE="Mark Harder, post: 5597300, member: 528112"]Education is not like fattening a goose.  You can't just force feed "knowledge" to the student, who is a passive participant at best, a determined opponent at worst.  This misunderstanding engenders another one – if a student fails, it's the teacher's fault.  When you get right down to it, the responsibility for educating a student lies principally in the student.  IMHO, telling them that, for reasons discussed in this thread, they are entitled to a positive result (i.e. a license to make money) from their education is a very big part of the problem, and the source of excessive leniency in education.[/QUOTE]Well said.

  12. mheslep says:

    [QUOTE="Mark Harder, post: 5597293, member: 528112"]Administrations (like corporate executives) make the decisions and reward themselves as they like.[/QUOTE]Like corporate execs in a monopoly or subsidized market perhaps, otherwise no.  Top heavy companies that perform poorly  against competition in open markets have their management dismantled or otherwise have the company cut up.  There is no such threat to the traditional university system supplied by billions in student loans, immunity to property taxes, etc.

  13. Mark Harder says:

    Education is not like fattening a goose.  You can't just force feed "knowledge" to the student, who is a passive participant at best, a determined opponent at worst.  This misunderstanding engenders another one – if a student fails, it's the teacher's fault.  When you get right down to it, the responsibility for educating a student lies principally in the student.  IMHO, telling them that, for reasons discussed in this thread, they are entitled to a positive result (i.e. a license to make money) from their education is a very big part of the problem, and the source of excessive leniency in education.

  14. Mark Harder says:

    [QUOTE="Vanadium 50, post: 5589545, member: 110252"]There is a bifurcation in university philosophies.  A small number – not all in the northeast and not all the ones in the northeast – see the student primarily as the product.  A much larger number see the student primarily as the customer.[/QUOTE]The 'customer' moniker is adopted by those universities (including a former employer of mine) governed by the philosophy that universities should be run like a business.  It's a misguided response to the economic pressures under which universities operate today.  Public universities are under pressure from the electorate who won't vote for the increased taxes needed to feed the insatiable hunger of the public academy.  I have lived in Oregon long enough to have witnessed just such a progression.  The state legislature can't raise taxes without an authorizing referendum, which are opposed both by taxpayers and business interests within the state and outside it.  It's become popular to blame faculty and public service unions and their retirement funds for the growing expenses.  A closer look at universities' budgets shows that they share the same problem as many corporations.  They are all top-heavy.  Administrations (like corporate executives) make the decisions and reward themselves as they like.  My former employer's administration once tried to enact a raise for themselves in secret, so the faculty wouldn't get wind of it, to take just one example.  The 'business' model has also been applied to medical facilities, and I imagine the results are similar.  The fact is that education and health care are intrinsically not businesses, and trying to run them as if they were has been ruinous in more ways that one.

  15. Dr. Courtney says:

    [QUOTE="Drakkith, post: 5589721, member: 272035"]I'd go one step further and say, "Because they're people and the vast majority of people do not work like that."[/QUOTE]I'm not so sure I would be so pessimistic.  I think many people are born viewing science as a challenge and an adventure, but that various features of the educational system force accommodations that bury the view as a challenge and adventure under layers of coping mechanisms.  It would be an error to conclude that only those whose challenge and adventure outlook are apparent in college ever had it in the first place.  My first thought was to encourage skeptics to visit their regional and state science fairs.  There you will meet dozens or hundreds of students with the challenge and adventure outlook.  But then I realized that experience is ambiguous as one could argue that the science fair participants are essentially selected and might represent a small minority.A better case can be made by considering the group of USAFA cadets who participated in the research program for the weakest 10% of incoming science and math students that was started by colleagues and I.  These were the students described as "trailers and failers" by some administrators.  These were the students with average (at best) ACT scores in science and math and who either placed into remedial math or who failed Calc 1 the first semester.By giving them opportunities to participate in publication quality research as freshmen, we were able to reach underneath those layers of coping mechanisms, find the spark, and rekindle the sense of challenge and adventure that had been snuffed out and buried by the educational system that had told them they were stupid and could not do well in science and math.  True, only 35% of program participants did well enough on their projects to yield published papers, but a 35% rate of scholarly publications in this group provides hard evidence that the sense of challenge and adventure of science is not absent from the "vast majority."  The challenge for educators is to present students with the puzzle pieces needed to succeed and impart the confidence to move forward and embrace the challenge and adventure.  We need to convince students of a path forward without resorting to their habitual coping mechanisms.See: Impossible? Publication Quality Research with the Weakest 10% of Incoming Freshmen

  16. HAYAO says:

    [QUOTE="Fervent Freyja, post: 5590774, member: 584792"]This is very sad. Does this explain why it is such a clean country? I didn't get the impression that people were very unhappy when I visited many years ago. They were very friendly with me and seemed to have good, cooperative attitudes towards each other! It does make sense now that I look back. It makes me sad to think of such friendly people having to live that way. :frown:[/QUOTE]Physics labs tend to be much more benign compared to chemistry labs. And like anywhere else, even in chemistry there are labs that are just simply good. So in these labs, I am sure what Dr. Courtney said applies. Ironically, labs that produce a lot of good results typically have very bad working conditions and selfish and irrational professors.  In Japan, we call these types of labs as "Black Laboratories". Students in these so-called "black labs" typically do experiments during "core-time" (time in which you must be in the lab) and is not allowed to do any work that is done on desk. So they do their desk works after that "core-time" has passed. This core-time is typically around 8 to 9 hours for normal labs, but black labs tend to be 12 hours or more. Considering that they can only work on desk after such 12 hours, they really end up going home much later than that. These people are deprived of sleep. I really feel bad for them.I am in one of those labs that are in the grey zone. The core-time is 8 to 10 hours a day (depends on the day of the week) and 5 days a week. And professors don't force you to do nothing but experiments during that time. Nonetheless, I tend to stay around 12 to 14 hours a day and occasionally go on the weekends as well. My advisors are also quite tough in an irrational way. But it is not like I can produce more results than the people in the States do in their much shorter working hours. It is because we have too much office work and non-research related work than the research itself.  I really hope this changes. This is not what I went there for.Foreigners tend to get treated better since most Japanese will give up on pushing on the same ideals on people with significant cultural differences. It's also many because Japanese typically admire Americans and Europeans. And like you would expect for any country, there are people who are genuinely good and people who are just good on the outside. These unreasonably tough people are those who are only good on the outside as far as my experience goes.Okay I am finished with my lunch. I gotta go to work again.

  17. Fervent Freyja says:

    [QUOTE="HAYAO, post: 5590112, member: 558519"]Unfortunately, that is not the level of pressure some Japanese take in academics, especially in area like chemistry. It is really a form of harassment. Japanese workplace is known for being unnecessarily and impractically unreasonable with its style. The death and suicide rate due to overwork is terribly high compared to other countries. [/QUOTE]This is very sad. Does this explain why it is such a clean country? I didn't get the impression that people were very unhappy when I visited many years ago. They were very friendly with me and seemed to have good, cooperative attitudes towards each other! It does make sense now that I look back. It makes me sad to think of such friendly people having to live that way. :frown:

  18. Fervent Freyja says:

    A question that’s been on my mind for a while? Does micromanaging students during courses, in order to prevent cheating, negatively affect learning outcomes? If so, how much? Could streamlining (although effective) the courses to the degree we see today contribute to higher rates of cheating, as it gives them wider assess to cheating methods? Is there too much emphasis on the act of cheating and too little about their attitude towards learning? Maybe I’m too old-fashioned on the matter, but for many subjects I would rather have a textbook thrown at me, show up for lectures, actually discuss the material, have opportunities to do some actual personalized WORK, and be told to prepare for the worst at exams. Many courses today spent a lot of time hand-holding and the number of graded assignments for one course can be insane. Does making it obvious that students can’t be trusted actually discourage them from learning? Instead of nitpicking the topic of their undergraduate thesis, what might be delivered if a little more trust in the student was shown?I don’t believe that talking about one incident of a student cheating is assessing the whole picture here, nor can it be blamed totally on one entity. Sure, educators and institutions can be a part of it, but even maintaining excellent integrity at all levels doesn't address the reason a person cheats. All that does is address one incident. Cheating is a result of an attitude that likely occurs with other opportunistic behaviors that aren’t against policy or often border in a gray area. An opportunistic attitude can be thought to occur with a long-running set of behaviors that manifest and become cognitive habits far before they make it to post-secondary education. Habits are patterns and patterns prevail, this should be easier to predict in a student than it currently is- is there no way to measure the risk for new students? I believe the problem isn’t in a student cheating once, but a true cheater, a person with an opportunistic attitude, can be said to consistently partake in a host of opportunistic behaviors, including cheating, over a long period of time. I imagine there is a lot of forethought into some of the methods that are used. That seems like a lot of energy and stress. Do they not know any other way? To explain why I believe this, take for instance, that you prepare balance and income statements for a multi-million dollar company and are responsible for addressing discrepancies therein. There are always losses, but there are many patterns that you need to worry about that can lead to further loss; namely, an employee that steals usually commits many more subtle, less damaging acts of opportunism than the ultimate number of crimes. They often leave patterns that show the attitude, even on record. Out of numerous departments and hundreds of employees, you notice an associate is turning in figures very different than the others. Odd, upon further inspection, you see the itemized lists are also reflecting very different prices than it should, but only off the most by $10. You don’t see a real loss or gain. You find that the associate was using a keyboard that had a malfunctioning # 9 at the keypad and had been rounding figures. At first, it seems like an innocent, but lazy mistake, right? However, why not use the other 9 on the keyboard? Why wait weeks, never doing anything about it? What does that tell you about the employee- their attitude, their habits? You watch them more closely and find that they commit more opportunistic behaviors, and ultimately, they begin adjusting their own commission and that of other employees, as *favors*.  Cheating and stealing stem from an opportunistic attitude, but I say that many more other subtle behaviors occur far before leading up to the more prosecutable acts. It is an attitude.That same reasoning can apply to cheating students, since cheating is an act of opportunism. Since not all students with that attitude get caught and I don’t see them having the opportunity to cheat at every chance- would they when they could? What sort of subtle behaviors to watch for? What kind of attitude is a red flag? Which students take offers for non-credit work? Which students will stay for a lab when told leaving won’t count against them and that participating will earn them no credit? Which students are concerned with only the grade, not finding out the answers to missed questions? Do they even understand that the graded work is ongoing communication, not competition with other students? Which ones would stay after class to find that out? Which ones are bothered by not knowing which ones they missed? Which students want to learn the subject enough that they end up outsourcing the provided material- no course program can ever cover the available knowledge or recent material for a subject, we all know that? Are they using the resources provided and attempting to find more out on their own? What kinds of students cheat the most? Those that are failing the course, or those that want an A? What motivates a person to remain in that kind of attitude for years? Do they not learn from their actions? Does the act of cheating lower self-esteem, does each act of cheating reinforce the attitude? Can students be rehabilitated from that type of thought process? Can children be given the tools, knowledge, and encouragement early on, so as to spare them from having an opportunistic attitude? Does it stem from experience with the education system in late childhood? Do cheaters need help? Are they as bad as thieves are? Do they deserve compassion and rehabilitation counseling the same that we give the worst criminal offenders in the penal system? Can we even generalize what type of person a cheater must be? Are there different categories of cheater, those we should be more compassionate towards or those we should more persecuting towards? Do some need help, but don’t know what to do? Do others just not care? Can we even begin to blame the government or educators for the kind of attitude a person holds?Some food for thought after 400 mg of caffeine!

  19. russ_watters says:

    [QUOTE="Vanadium 50, post: 5589708, member: 110252"]Why?  We used to have a society when a small fraction went to college and a large faction did not.  We are evolving towards a system where many people go to college, but only a small fraction learn anything and the remainder go to a 4-year long state-subsidized party.   We can surely argue whether subsidizing people to attend Faber College or its real world counterparts is a good use of society's money, but what is the actual harm in four years of wrapping themselves in bed sheets and pouring grain alcohol over their heads?[/QUOTE]Maybe I missed your point or rhetorical, but the "actual harm" is the personal debt with nothing to show for it but the memories.  Society may actually work better this way, maintaining stratification against artificial leveling, but for the individual who finds themself at age 30 with a hundred thousand dollars in debt and still paying the bills bartending, it's a tragedy.

  20. russ_watters says:

    [QUOTE="Dr. Courtney, post: 5589666, member: 117790"]Nailed it.  I've felt like the voice of one crying in the wilderness for over a decade now.Science and Engineering Education: Who is the Customer?This is by far my most important educational paper.  No one will publish it but arXiv.  No one reads it, no one cites it, no one hardly cares.This is the most important educational issue of our time.[/QUOTE]Yes, I agree it is an important subject/problem.  I suspect that paper hasn't been published because while it is written in the format of a scientific paper, it isn't one.  Have you considered re-packaging it as an article and submitting it to, say, The Economist?Following your line of reasoning (following the money), it makes a lot of sense when you look at college campuses and see dining halls, stadiums, student centers and gyms that are spectacular and classroom buildings that are crap.  This clearly indicates that according to the school, providing a quality education just isn't what college is for: college is for the social experience.  So who's fault is that?  While it is tempting to blame it on the schools because they pick where to spend their money, so their control is direct, I don't think that's the right target:  the customer is always right, which means that if the customer is wrong, it's the customer's fault.  Schools that fail to provide what the customer asks for lose customers.  Most kids are <18 when selecting a college to attend and <20 when selecting a major.  These first meaningful decisions they make as adults are biggies and most choose poorly.  So for that, I put the blame squarely on their parents.  They should be pounding-in to their kids for ten years the end-game of all of that school up to the high school diploma: the goal is to pick a college and major that prepare you for a quality job.  And they should do everything possible to not allow the kid to make the wrong decisions. Parents have a huge influence, whether they exercise it directly or not.  From having the same religion, teen pregnancy, drug use/crime, kids take after their parents.  My dad is/was an engineer/businessman.  So I almost didn't even need to be taught what to do: the "right" path was there for me to see every day.  But given that more and more people are going to college – while their parents didn't – there is an expectations gap caused by lack of a baseline to follow and failure of parents to teach their kids what path they should be taking.  To put it succinctly: I think they think the endgame is getting into college, not what they will do once they get there.  Because that is the exact point where their path diverges from their parents.

  21. Dr. Courtney says:

    [QUOTE="mheslep, post: 5590418, member: 70823"]That's a start.  I gathered that Tulane was an exception, a  non-Faber.[/QUOTE]I hope so.  We did not have a hard look at Tulane, because it is a private school (expensive), and none of our teens or students we've mentored have expressed an interest or asked for our recommendation on it.  Our A list schools in the SE US are:Rice, Texas A&M, UGA, GA Tech, Clemson, and U Florida.We have not had a hard look at Vandy, Tulane, or a few other schools that would probably make the A list if we did.But we have also noted a tremendous range of quality in the B list schools.  A 3.9 GPA from the best B list schools might be preferred to a 2.5 GPA from some of the A list schools.

  22. mheslep says:

    [QUOTE="Dr. Courtney, post: 5590277, member: 117790"]There is so much federal money flowing in (financial aid), that the inflow of cash is really much more strongly dependent on accreditation than on reputation.  The student has control over the flow of a lot more money than he has personally invested.  In most cases, not much thought is given to the real value (earning potential) associated with the diploma. [/QUOTE]Yes controlled by the student was my point, that is, choice of where to spend that money. At the moment, there's not a severe penalty for attending a category B school, as V50 names them, because, I believe, they're not generally known by many employers to be Fabers.  Replace a couple of those hopelessly ambiguous, 1 through 1000 college  ranking publications with a simple A and B ranking, and I expect there will soon be a penalty for attending B in job prospects, followed by a shift in money flow, followed by …, followed by…[quote]Most Louisiana institutions are not much different from Faber College, yet the piece of paper qualifies most of their education graduates to teach K-12 in the Louisiana public schools.[/QUOTE]That's a start.  I gathered that Tulane was an exception, a  non-Faber.

  23. Dr. Courtney says:

    [QUOTE="mheslep, post: 5590160, member: 70823"]As the money flowing into these mills is dependent on reputation, on the ability to grant a credential, then naming (more) names and placing them in A and B would seem to be the primary corrective.  Faber College when known as such can't really be said to grant a credential, only a piece of paper.[/QUOTE]There is so much federal money flowing in (financial aid), that the inflow of cash is really much more strongly dependent on accreditation than on reputation.  The student has control over the flow of a lot more money than he has personally invested.  In most cases, not much thought is given to the real value (earning potential) associated with the diploma.  Most Louisiana institutions are not much different from Faber College, yet the piece of paper qualifies most of their education graduates to teach K-12 in the Louisiana public schools.

  24. mheslep says:

    [QUOTE="Vanadium 50, post: 5589545, member: 110252"]True that.There is a bifurcation in university philosophies.  A small number – not all in the northeast and not all the ones in the northeast – see the student primarily as the product.  A much larger number see the student primarily as the customer.  There the value proposition is "you borrow a ton of money, give it to us, and we'll make sure your classes don't interfere with beer, sex or football, and after four of five years we'll give you a credential".  The problem is that this credential is dropping in value faster than the Venezuelan Bolivar.  Employers are seeing a difference in value between a Category A school degree (not all Ivy – I would put places like Carnegie-Mellon and Carlton in that category) and a Category B school degree.[/QUOTE]As the money flowing into these mills is dependent on reputation, on the ability to grant a credential, then naming (more) names and placing them in A and B would seem to be the primary corrective.  Faber College when known as such can't really be said to grant a credential, only a piece of paper.

  25. HAYAO says:

    [QUOTE="Dr. Courtney, post: 5587769, member: 117790"]Thanks for your insights and views regarding the situation in Japan.  It is hard to suggest that the practical details should be the same in other cultures as in the US.  The goals should be the same (scientific honesty), but if the cultures are very different, then the paths and methods might be much different.In the US, there are occasional claims that pressure to succeed can be blamed for scientific and academic dishonesty.  I do not buy that at all.  My wife and I have been at top 10 schools, military academies, big state schools, lower tier schools, liberal arts colleges, and high schools.  Sure there is pressure to succeed, but nothing that cannot be accomplished with hard work without resorting to dishonesty, cheating, or faking data.Without fail, instances of cheating and faking data are attributable to several causes:…[/QUOTE]Thank you for sharing how things are in the States. It really helps understand the cultural differences between countries (although I've lived in the States as well).Unfortunately, that is not the level of pressure some Japanese take in academics, especially in area like chemistry. It is really a form of harassment. Japanese workplace is known for being unnecessarily and impractically unreasonable with its style. The death and suicide rate due to overwork is terribly high compared to other countries. This has caught attention of public these days, hence the terms like "academic harassment", "power harassment", "maternity harassment", etc. has become a common knowledge shared among people. I'm pretty sure there are terms like "sexual harassment" in English, but other form of harassment seems to be almost purely of Japanese origin. The situation is that bad.The form of labor tends to be even worse in academics of chemistry simply because the laws regarding labor does not apply to students. Of course that can be understood because they are there to study, not work. The problem is, there are a lot of labs that force students to work AT LEAST 12 hours a day, 6 days a week. Most of the time, this time needs to be extended longer due to cultural issue that lower ranked employees should never go home earlier than their superiors. In my personal opinion, people should be allowed to go home anytime they want as long as they get their jobs done. It is stupid to stay only because they have to by rules. But no one can complain because culturally, lower ranked employees shall never question their superiors.I've seen this so-called "academic harassment" where advisors physically and/or mentally attack their own students. I've seen students that leave college due to depression or never come to lab because they are afraid to do so. There is no motivation here. Only punishment. There is no such thing as "accomplishment". Some people have committed suicide. Despite such large number of people having problems, it never really surfaced because of such cultural restrictions until recently. In Japanese we call it "naki-neiri" which literally means "crying until they sleep", or in more comprehensible language, "not being able to do anything at all about some unreasonable things that happen". Those however do survive this typically have similar type of personality as their superiors, which is why the same thing repeats and have been repeating in Japan.In such desperate situation, I do not think it is so unnatural that one will commit to some sort of misconduct in their research to escape punishment. The level of "pressure" I am talking about exceeds that of which can be explained by laziness, greed, and power.By the way, for undergraduates and masters degree, scholarship is virtually nonexistent. Maybe 1 out of 200 students might be given $500 /month, which isn't even enough to live. The rest will have to rely on "scholarship loans" (which is technically not a scholarship). The situation slightly improves for Ph.D. course, but it is still extremely limited. Ph.D. course in Japan usually never involve even a single penny (it's the reason why there are very few Ph.D. students in Japan). Only handful will ever receive anything in their Ph.D. course, but that is limited to extremely capable person. I think for this reason, it really lacks motivation to do research. (Instead, they pay for people outside Japan to come over, which I think is really wrong.)

  26. Dr. Courtney says:

    [QUOTE="Vanadium 50, post: 5589708, member: 110252"]Why?  We used to have a society when a small fraction went to college and a large faction did not.  We are evolving towards a system where many people go to college, but only a small fraction learn anything and the remainder go to a 4-year long state-subsidized party.   We can surely argue whether subsidizing people to attend Faber College or its real world counterparts is a good use of society's money, but what is the actual harm in four years of wrapping themselves in bed sheets and pouring grain alcohol over their heads?I think the only real dangerous proposal is mandated graduation rates. [/QUOTE]The administrators who force teachers to pass students who haven't earned it are making those mandates to increase retention and graduation rates.But I should have been clearer in my earlier post, when I wrote, "This is the most important educational issue of our time" I mean the general problem through all grades of passing students who have not met the requirements promised to the accrediting agencies, etc.  I think you interpreted it only in terms of college.  My earlier statement thata simple attempt to execute the above two paragraphs [not gifting grades] will have students, other faculty, and the administration at war with you shortly after mid-term grades come outThis applies equally strongly in high schools today as it does in college.  About half of the STEM teachers who lost their jobs for refusing to compromise academic integrity were high school teachers, not college professors.But if college professors would only pass the students who truly master the material and earn their grades, this would exert tremendous downward pressure on the high schools, jr highs, and elementary schools to improve imparting honesty, skills, and work ethic.  I recall my 4th grade math teacher spanking me in the hallway for lying about completing my math homework.  She always told us we'd be digging ditches if we didn't learn math.But since most K-12 teachers today have graduated from colleges that gift grades, they no longer believe that honesty, hard work, and mastery of the material in the syllabus and course descriptions are really required to succeed in college.  Consequently, even though they are guilty, their consciences do not see a problem sending along students who are unprepared for what should be coming next, because they no longer have the convictions of my 4th grade math teacher.

  27. Drakkith says:

    [QUOTE="Charles Link, post: 5589676, member: 583509"]The question I have is why don't these students see learning as both a challenge and an adventure?[/QUOTE][QUOTE="Vanadium 50, post: 5589708, member: 110252"]Because they're teenagers.[/QUOTE]I'd go one step further and say, "Because they're people and the vast majority of people do not work like that."

  28. Vanadium 50 says:

    [QUOTE="Charles Link, post: 5589676, member: 583509"]The question I have is why don't these students see learning as both a challenge and an adventure?[/QUOTE]Because they're teenagers.I once felt that people should not in general be allowed to go to college straight out of high school.  If they felt they were exceptionally ready, they could petition for it.  However, if you take a look at the Category A schools, they all demand this.  They may call it an essay or an interview, but that's what they are doing.  Students who say "I'm happy to learn, so long as it doesn't cut into my time for beer, sex and football" tend not to be admitted.  MIT requires this – from four people!  (Applicant, two teachers and usually the interviewer)[QUOTE="Dr. Courtney, post: 5589666, member: 117790"]This is the most important educational issue of our time.[/QUOTE]Why?  We used to have a society when a small fraction went to college and a large faction did not.  We are evolving towards a system where many people go to college, but only a small fraction learn anything and the remainder go to a 4-year long state-subsidized party.   We can surely argue whether subsidizing people to attend Faber College or its real world counterparts is a good use of society's money, but what is the actual harm in four years of wrapping themselves in bed sheets and pouring grain alcohol over their heads?I think the only real dangerous proposal is mandated graduation rates.  If the federal government mandated that 90% of manufactured cars had to be sold, no matter how many defects they had, there would be an outrage.

  29. Dr. Courtney says:

    [QUOTE="Vanadium 50, post: 5589545, member: 110252"]True that.There is a bifurcation in university philosophies.  A small number – not all in the northeast and not all the ones in the northeast – see the student primarily as the product.  A much larger number see the student primarily as the customer.  There the value proposition is "you borrow a ton of money, give it to us, and we'll make sure your classes don't interfere with beer, sex or football, and after four of five years we'll give you a credential".  The problem is that this credential is dropping in value faster than the Venezuelan Bolivar.  Employers are seeing a difference in value between a Category A school degree (not all Ivy – I would put places like Carnegie-Mellon and Carlton in that category) and a Category B school degree.[/QUOTE]Nailed it.  I've felt like the voice of one crying in the wilderness for over a decade now.Science and Engineering Education: Who is the Customer?This is by far my most important educational paper.  No one will publish it but arXiv.  No one reads it, no one cites it, no one hardly cares.This is the most important educational issue of our time.

  30. Vanadium 50 says:

    [QUOTE="Dr. Courtney, post: 5589121, member: 117790"], a simple attempt to execute the above two paragraphs will have students, other faculty, and the administration at war with you shortly after mid-term grades come out[/QUOTE]True that.There is a bifurcation in university philosophies.  A small number – not all in the northeast and not all the ones in the northeast – see the student primarily as the product.  A much larger number see the student primarily as the customer.  There the value proposition is "you borrow a ton of money, give it to us, and we'll make sure your classes don't interfere with beer, sex or football, and after four of five years we'll give you a credential".  The problem is that this credential is dropping in value faster than the Venezuelan Bolivar.  Employers are seeing a difference in value between a Category A school degree (not all Ivy – I would put places like Carnegie-Mellon and Carlton in that category) and a Category B school degree.

  31. Dr. Courtney says:

    [QUOTE="Charles Link, post: 5588932, member: 583509"]I don't see a simple solution to it.  [USER=117790]@Dr. Courtney[/USER]  above,  seems to think it is up to the educators to police things,  but I think this problem could be far bigger than any one of us.  If basic morals aren't instilled into people at an early age,  I think we are all going to pay a huge price for it.  By the time they reach college age,  it is very hard to change anything.[/QUOTE]But high school teachers can use the same excuse, blaming the quality of the students they are getting on junior high school, and junior high can blame the elementary schools.  Everyone blames the parents.  If an auto company makes bad cars, are struggles with materials and parts suppliers sufficient excuse to sell the bad cars?  Then why is the quality of the input material an excuse to keep cashing paychecks from the taxpayer and passing students who have not learned?Some time ago, a core group of STEM teachers I am close to decided that regardless of the quality of the students that arrived on the first day of class, we alone were responsible for the quality of each and every student to whom we awarded a passing grade.  Integrity demands that each student awarded a C must be proficient in at least 70% of the learning objectives, 80% for a B, and 90% for an A.  Not that grading is an exact science, but this core group of teachers decided that to the best of our professional abilities and judgment, we would design and execute courses where the only passing students would be proficient in all the things downstream teachers or employers would reasonably expect them to know based on our course descriptions and syllabi.We learned to judge how we were doing not by student evaluations or success rates in our classes, but how well students who passed our classes performed in downstream courses for which our courses are a prerequisite.  Our student success rates in downstream courses have been phenomenal.It is really as simple as this, but I would be lying if I pretended it was easy.  In many places, a simple attempt to execute the above two paragraphs will have students, other faculty, and the administration at war with you shortly after mid-term grades come out.  When individuals from our core group of STEM teachers who stick to this plan start a new teaching job, we have less than a 50% chance of being retained the second year.  In some cases, teachers had the second half of contracts paid in full after being removed from the classroom and being replaced by shills who would work something out to pass the vast majority of students regardless of how much they have learned.  But for us, it is the Golden Rule.  Since we recognize the mistakes and failures of other teachers and other institutions passing such poor quality students on to us, we would be hypocrites if we continued the trend and just passed them on to others.  Students must earn their grades, or it ends here.This core group of STEM teachers talks frankly about academic rigor and our intentions in the interview and hiring process.  In exit interviews, these faculty members have been told by deans things like "a lot of people from the northeast talk that way, but we expect them to change once they see how things are really done here."

  32. Fervent Freyja says:

    [QUOTE="Drakkith, post: 5584565, member: 272035"]Though I suppose you could argue that someone who cheats is much more likely to be lazy/complacent.[/QUOTE]Or they feel entitled. Over a dozen members from one of my universities athletic teams were cheating on both lab and lecture exams in one course. I went forward, with plenty of reason and some evidence. The 2nd lab group had tried to get me to tell them answers to the open-answer lab exam and I was straight out told they were texting answers to each other not long after. Weeks went by, nothing happened to them, except that it only became even more and more obvious. So, one day, when one of them basically outted themselves while reviewing lecture exam results, I couldn't help but say something to the class to let them know was going on. I got into trouble, not the cheaters. *I* was reported to that dean for my behavior. He really didn't take anybodies side on it, it was more about the way I reacted to that and a few other occasions. I admit that I behaved inappropriately and overreacted, even made some faculty members cry (from another incidence). But, since I keep getting into trouble for things like that, I'm not saying anything ever, ever again. Ever. Let them cheat, I don't care anymore what they do. F it.My lab partners & I were recently comparing prior courses and teachers. They said that one teacher had always been easy for them, I insisted they had been challenging for me and thought they were either nuts, or something must be wrong with me! Just this last week, he starts talking to the group about 'googling test keys'  for an exam in this course and the other one admits to doing it too, as if there is nothing at all wrong with that! So, I'm thinking, "oh, I see now"! That's why it was so easy for them! Never pay attention to someone who brags about an A, not all of them are earned equally! There is something wrong with the way they think! They seem to instantly think of short-cutting it without even attempting to learn the material first! If I'm not doing well, then I will either amp it up or drop the course! Someone who cheats isn't interested in learning, they don't see it as important or as if anything is wrong with cheating at all!

  33. Dr. Courtney says:

    [QUOTE="Charles Link, post: 5587980, member: 583509"]Generally,  I think the focus needs to be on rewarding the good ones for giving their academics the full effort that it requires than trying to police a very small minority who invariably don't seem to be able to give anything an honest effort regardless of what you do.  When cheating and dishonesty make it to the forefront,  it can spoil the academic experience,  but I don't know that there is any simple way for a dedicated teacher at the university level to deal with such a thing.  The job of the university professor is difficult enough-they shouldn't need to take on the role of disciplinarian.  At a well run university or place of employment,  the cream will usually rise to the top,  and when it does,  it is a win-win for everyone.  Even if a teacher finds themselves surrounded by cheaters,  their best approach might be to lead by example.  Continue to be honest in everything you do,  and try to see the glass as being half full even when it is half empty.[/QUOTE]Awarding academic credit that was fraudulently achieved is as fraudulent as the cheating itself, but it does keep the money flowing in without rocking the boat.If academic credit is meaningful, and the paycheck for teaching is truly earned, there is considerable diligence due to prevent cheating and other forms of dishonesty.  Pretending that ignoring cheating is "leading by example" is cowardice and fraud.  It is impossible to ignore cheating and pretend to "Continue to be honest in everything you do."  This is cheating the taxpayers paying for the accredited degrees and the employers who are depending on some level of quality in those earning academic degrees.  It is no better than police who ignore abuses of power within their ranks (but do not abuse power themselves.)  It is no better than doctors who ignore malpractice among their colleagues (but avoid malpractice themselves.)  The education students must have IS the work product of the professor.  Passing students without due diligence regarding product quality is like shipping automobiles without due diligence that the cars work as advertised.

  34. Dr. Courtney says:

    [QUOTE="HAYAO, post: 5584814, member: 558519"]Very nice insight indeed.I'm from Japan so I don't really know the system in the States, but I certainly agree that the government barely has any contribution to the integrity of scientists. Things have gotten quite strict in Japan since the incident of former Dr, Obokata from RIKEN with her paper in nature that got retracted later for plagiarism, falsification, and some other scientific misconduct.The thing is, however, that I understand some of her claims and justification. Don't get me wrong, I think she should be punished well and be stripped of her Ph.D. title because she basically fooled everyone in the world ever since her Ph.D. thesis. However, she was pressured quite a lot to produce good results and was somewhat indoctrinated by her superiors to lead to wrong conclusions. More or less, this is actually rather common in Japan.The thing is, the "seniority" system in Japan is indeed intimidating for some students and lower ranked academic posts and it does encourage some sort of scientific misconduct at certain level of intimidation from their superiors. In fact, academic harassment is so common in Japanese academics that student often find themselves on an edge of a cliff.  At this level, I am not surprised that one of these victims will try falsifying data to protect themselves.  This is why I think it is full responsibility of the teachers or the superiors to keep this from happening, and should it happen in actuality they are the one that needs to be punished in some way. This is also why I can't necessarily fully blame the students and scientists for their plagiarism in a situation like this because what they need is protection, not punishment. Even the most honest person can do wrong in a extreme situation. There are some fundamental structural issues in Japan that needs to be fixed before we can carry out punishments.[/QUOTE]Thanks for your insights and views regarding the situation in Japan.  It is hard to suggest that the practical details should be the same in other cultures as in the US.  The goals should be the same (scientific honesty), but if the cultures are very different, then the paths and methods might be much different.In the US, there are occasional claims that pressure to succeed can be blamed for scientific and academic dishonesty.  I do not buy that at all.  My wife and I have been at top 10 schools, military academies, big state schools, lower tier schools, liberal arts colleges, and high schools.  Sure there is pressure to succeed, but nothing that cannot be accomplished with hard work without resorting to dishonesty, cheating, or faking data.Without fail, instances of cheating and faking data are attributable to several causes:1. Laziness.  Researcher or student procrastinates and then gets squeezed for time.  Moral compromise in faking data or other dishonesty originates in desire to take a shortcut.2. Greed.  One scientific outcome is more likely than the others to make a product look good, secure funding, or support desires of an important client.  Data failing to support desired outcome is disregarded and/or data supporting desired outcome is fabricated.3.  Power: Desired public policy change. One scientific outcome is more likely than the others to support a desired public policy change.  Data failing to support desired change is disregarded and/or data supporting desired policy change is fabricated.The scientific dishonesty can often be more subtle such as: A. publishing data agreeing with a model in journals and with press releases, while keeping data in disagreement under wraps or harder to find.B. publishing data supporting desired policy change (or funding) quickly while delaying data not supporting desired policy change (or funding)C. careless or willful misuse of sources: making overly broad or different claims than those well supported in citationsD. Focus on one possible causal factor while ignoring other possibilitiesE. Confusing failing to find support for a competing hypothesis in an experiment with disproof of that hypothesisF. Publishing conclusions without a clear path and access to the raw experimental data and analysis that supports those conclusions.  Without the data, it is a dishonest appeal to the authors' authority rather than a scientific result.

  35. Dr. Courtney says:

    [QUOTE="Drakkith, post: 5584565, member: 272035"]Indeed. Though in that latter case I think it was more laziness/complacency than something resulting from cheating. Though I suppose you could argue that someone who cheats is much more likely to be lazy/complacent.[/QUOTE]The military academies have redundant mechanisms in place that are more effective than anything I've seen in place at other colleges and universities at keeping cheaters and the lazy/complacent from graduating.  At the military academies, not graduating means no commission, because the commission occurs in military ceremonies within a few hours of graduation (an academic ceremony). There are four basic ways a student can be removed from a military academy: 1) an honor code violation 2) failure to meet academic standards 3) failure to meet military standards 4) failure to meet fitness standards.  If a student happens to avoid expulsion due to cheating, he is still likely to be removed for failing to meet academic standards, because cheating is often a response to poor academic performance related to laziness and complacency. Faculty can write comment cards on any student at any time, and they must write comment cards on any student in their courses earning a C- or below.  Checking the box "retain" or "do not retain" is mandatory.  I recommended most students performing poorly in my courses not be retained, because they were simply too big a risk to justify another $50k per semester of taxpayer money trying to get them to graduate.  95% of the students for whom I recommended "do not retain" did not make it to graduation (and commissioning), including all of the students involved in any honor cases. Most were gone for academic reasons or due to voluntary separation (resignation) before their honor cases were even completed.I've always felt much better about the character and education of officers commissioned through the military academies than those coming up through ROTC or OTS (Officer Training School).  These alternate commissioning sources lack the redundant mechanisms to weed out the bad apples.  Institutions that hire all their graduates tend to be better at quality than institutions that do not.  Officers coming through ROTC and OTS are unlikely to be better than any other STEM graduate with regards to their training in scientific and academic integrity, because these commissioning sources are depending on the teachers and scientists in academia to do it….If you think the military academies should be doing it, you should do it to, because almost any STEM graduate can become an officer through OTS.

  36. Dr. Courtney says:

    [QUOTE="Drakkith, post: 5584565, member: 272035"]I wonder how many teachers and scientists even know about this… [Ernst Haeckel's well known fraudulent embryo drawings][/QUOTE]That's a good question.  It may be we are seeing a second generation effect where the laziness and lack of skepticism of one generation just passes on the material from the textbook to the next generation.  My habit has been to consult a number of secondary sources and check into things with multiple sources, and sometimes a few quick calculations when things don't jibe with consistency checks.  It's like I have a second processor in my mind always running consistency checks with existing information.To some degree, this came naturally, but I owe a lot to my graduate mentor, Dan Kleppner.  He was a running example of consistency checks and back of the envelope calculations relating to much of the scientific information he came across.  That's the approach that helped me catch an error on the title page in Chapter 9 in Fundamentals of Physics (Halliday, Resnick, and Walker, 8th Edition, p. 201).  The caption and related text attributed brain injury resistance in Big Horn sheep to the horns.  But running the numbers showed the textbook example to be unrealistic, and experimental evidence showed hornless sheep are no more susceptible to brain injury than horned sheep.  We wrote a paper on it:  Sheep Collisions: The Good, The Bad, and the TBI.For me, comparing predictions with experiment is just how real scientists should think (always).  Things should seem fishy when it is not being done.  Noticing the absence of this in a lot of the work on hypoxia in the Gulf of Mexico, we graphed a comparison of the theory vs.experiment ourselves and found a significant mismatch, shown in the figure taken from Predictions Wrong Again on Dead Zone Area – Gulf of Mexico Gaining Resistance to Nutrient Loading.    We also caught NOAA publishing an errant figure on this topic.  Since we were familiar with the real hypoxia maps, it was immediately obvious to us that the NOAA figure was wrong, and it did not take too much digging to find out NOAA had used a 2004 map showing turbidity claiming it was a 2013 map of hypoxic bottom water.One source I often check is Wikipedia, not because it has perfect accuracy, but my experience has taught me that students will go there more than any other outside source, so I like to know what they will find.  In the case of Haeckel, the Wikipedia pages do a pretty good job pointing out the errant embryo drawings.[ATTACH=full]106997[/ATTACH]

  37. HAYAO says:

    Very nice insight indeed.I'm from Japan so I don't really know the system in the States, but I certainly agree that the government barely has any contribution to the integrity of scientists. Things have gotten quite strict in Japan since the incident of former Dr, Obokata from RIKEN with her paper in nature that got retracted later for plagiarism, falsification, and some other scientific misconduct.The thing is, however, that I understand some of her claims and justification. Don't get me wrong, I think she should be punished well and be stripped of her Ph.D. title because she basically fooled everyone in the world ever since her Ph.D. thesis. However, she was pressured quite a lot to produce good results and was somewhat indoctrinated by her superiors to lead to wrong conclusions. More or less, this is actually rather common in Japan.The thing is, the "seniority" system in Japan is indeed intimidating for some students and lower ranked academic posts and it does encourage some sort of scientific misconduct at certain level of intimidation from their superiors. In fact, academic harassment is so common in Japanese academics that student often find themselves on an edge of a cliff.  At this level, I am not surprised that one of these victims will try falsifying data to protect themselves.  This is why I think it is full responsibility of the teachers or the superiors to keep this from happening, and should it happen in actuality they are the one that needs to be punished in some way. This is also why I can't necessarily fully blame the students and scientists for their plagiarism in a situation like this because what they need is protection, not punishment. Even the most honest person can do wrong in a extreme situation. There are some fundamental structural issues in Japan that needs to be fixed before we can carry out punishments.

  38. Drakkith says:

    [quote]It is interesting to note that the original article cites Ernst Haeckel but fails to note his well known fraudulent embryo drawings.  I recall stirring up controversy in a guest lecture to a biology class in the last decade by pointing out their modern day textbook was still using the errant Haeckel drawings.  The drawings and the associated recapitulation theory have been considered in error for over 100 years, so it is something of a mystery how they can appear in modern textbooks without hordes of teachers and scientists objecting.[/quote]I wonder how many teachers and scientists even know about this…[QUOTE="Vanadium 50, post: 5582783, member: 110252"]If you allow cheaters to get commissions, pretty soon you will have cheating on nuclear missile proficiency tests and officers certifying there isn't a live nuclear warhead on an aircraft when there was. Oh, wait.[/QUOTE]Indeed. Though in that latter case I think it was more laziness/complacency than something resulting from cheating. Though I suppose you could argue that someone who cheats is much more likely to be lazy/complacent.

  39. Dr. Courtney says:

    [QUOTE="Vanadium 50, post: 5582783, member: 110252"]I think your Air Force Academy examples are the fault of the government.  Who runs the Air Force Academy anyway?A cadet cheats, he or she should be expelled.  Period.  If you allow cheaters to get commissions, pretty soon you will have cheating on nuclear missile proficiency tests and officers certifying there isn't a live nuclear warhead on an aircraft when there was.  Oh, wait.[/QUOTE]I agree completely.  Expulsion should be and usually is the result of being found guilty of cheating by the cadet honor system. But servicemen should not be denied due process anymore than any other citizen.  The burden of proof in the cadet honor system is beyond a reasonable doubt, and the fact of guilt must be established by a jury of their peers.Academic consequences are viewed more as a civil penalty.  The standard of evidence is merely the preponderance of the evidence, and there is no need to show the cadet intended to gain unfair advantage.  Having Windows calculator open during a math test (an unauthorized resource) or having apparent uncited and copied text in a report can be addressed by the faculty and the department head and given a zero before the wheels of the cadet honor system really get going.  In many cases those prosecutions stall due to the challenge of proving intent to gain an unfair advantage.  That tends to be hard when many tools equivalent to Windows calculator are authorized and it is very believable that it was just an honest mistake.The service academies are much more serious about academic rigor and integrity than any other institution of higher learning my wife and I have seen in the US.

  40. Vanadium 50 says:

    I think your Air Force Academy examples are the fault of the government.  Who runs the Air Force Academy anyway?A cadet cheats, he or she should be expelled.  Period.  If you allow cheaters to get commissions, pretty soon you will have cheating on nuclear missile proficiency tests and officers certifying there isn't a live nuclear warhead on an aircraft when there was.  Oh, wait.

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