THE GREAT BETRAYAL: Fraud in Science

Horace Freeland Judson, Author . Harcourt $28 (463p) ISBN 978-0-15-100877-3

Many high-profile cases of alleged scientific fraud have made the headlines in the last few years, including the dispute over whether the French or the Americans discovered the HIV virus and the long-running and poisonously acrimonious David Baltimore case. In this far-ranging study, science historian and MacArthur Fellow Judson (The Eighth Day of Creation ) surveys how modern-day scientists pursue their research, the problems that ensue and the circumstances that contribute to fraud. Deceit in science isn't new; Judson starts by reviewing 19th-century physicist Charles Babbage's sardonic typology of scientific fraud, then finds Darwin retouching his pictures and Pasteur charged with misleading the public about his vaccine experiments. Several of Judson's categories rear their ugly heads time after time in his case studies, such as outright forgery, e.g., reporting experiments that were never done, and "trimming," or removing data that differ too much from the desired results. As for publication of research, Judson plots a distressing downward spiral in the peer review system, but holds out hope that "open review," which prevents reviewers from hiding behind anonymity, and open publication on the Internet rather than in peer-reviewed journals, may solve some of the problems. This book should have significant appeal for scientists, lawyers and judges, and other readers interested in how the pursuit of scientific knowledge is conducted today. (Oct.)

Reviewed on: 09/13/2004
Release date: 11/01/2004
Genre: Nonfiction
Discover what to read next