My frustration with the New York Times piece is that it was picked up by The Crimson, who went so far as to say that I had retracted my criticisms. For the record, I have not. I would implore all journalists to read carefully what I have written, rather than relying on hearsay and speculation.
I shall be writing to the editor of the New York Times to correct the misrepresentation of my views. I shall copy that letter to The Crimson. And when I have done that, I shall update this blog with a copy, regardless of whether NYT or The Crimson publish it. This entire saga is about the misrepresentation of truth. It is ironic that the journalists who profess to expose truth place such little value in it.
UPDATE: On sending the letter to the New York Times, I receive an automated reply saying that I was not permitted to publish the same text in any other medium. Consequently, I have decided not to post the letter here unless the New York Times choose not to publish it. If that’s the case, I will update this post with the (unpublished) letter. If they do publish it, I shall update with the appropriate link. In the meantime, the following snippets from email exchanges with Nicholas Wade should set the record straight:
15 Sep 2010, Nicholas Wade wrote at 19:27:
should one assume that you are now receding from or withdrawing your statement to me of Aug 27? “Given the PUBLISHED design of the experiment, my conclusion is that the control condition was fabricated,”
15 Sep 2010, I replied at 19:33:
I'm not withdrawing it. ... Given the content of the examined videotapes, any other conclusion than the one I reached and which you quoted would simply be implausible. So I stand by what I said.
UPDATE (November 6th): After writing to Nicholas Wade, and then to the letters page of the NYT, and then to his editor, and receiving no reply, I wrote 6 days later again. I did eventually receive a reply. They stand by their article and make no apology for ignoring my email clarifications to Mr. Wade. Colleagues who have read previous entries on this blog have had no problem interpreting where I stood on this issue. But such colleagues are not in the business of selling newspapers and hype, whatever the cost. So to set the cat amongst the pigeons, I have been told, and I shall not reveal more, that when the details of the investigation are eventually published, words such as “shocking” will flow freely. Here is the letter that NYT declined to publish. I shall not respond to any requests from NYT in the future.
Nicholas Wade writes, in Difficulties in Defining Errors in Case Against Harvard Researcher (10/25/2010), that I have retreated from my suggestion that Marc Hauser, found guilty of scientific misconduct by Harvard University, had fabricated data. He selectively quotes from me to conclude that Hauser committed “a devastating error, but not fraud”. In email exchanges with Mr. Wade, and on my blog, I explicitly wrote that I have not changed my interpretation of the evidence as described to me by the Harvard authorities. I explained how the alternative explanation, based on a sequence of errors, both lacked credibility and was inconsistent with information given to me by Harvard. The investigation of scientific misconduct is about the distortion of truth. The New York Times should care as much about the truth as does Harvard, and I trust that this clarification of my position can be added to the record.
Finally: I have been asked why I care about any of this, and why I felt the need to respond to journalists’ requests for my opinion (it was they that contacted me, not the other way around). The answer is simple: As the current Editor of the journal in which Hauser published 15 of his articles, one of which is now known to have contained fictitious data, it is my job to care. Just as it is my job to take a stand against the spreading of falsehoods, whether by rogue scientists, or rogue journalists. And that’s my final word on this matter, until, that is, the full details have been published and I can write here the following: “I told you so”.