Ideas for Second Research Paper
may pick any of the topics that you may have considered for the first paper but
didn’t follow through on.
• If you
heard other students mention something that sounded interesting you may do independent
research on that topic.
are some new angles to think about.
The Role of Hoaxes in Research
have seen that the fabrication of data is one of the biggest ethical breaches
people sometimes deliberately put out
fake data or fake artifacts in order to expose the sloppy standards of other
people in the field!
way fakes are exposed can tell us a lot about the quality control mechanisms
operating within various disciplines.
Locating Hoaxes/Frauds (sometimes the distinction is not clear)
Donald Simanek, a
retired physicist, has compiled a useful web site:
Another useful site is:
Hoaxes pose all sorts of
Is it ever legitimate to
deceive your colleagues even though you will eventually “debrief”
Are hoaxes an efficient
way of improving standards in a field?
Are hoaxes usually
perpetrated by central figures in the field or people on the fringe?
Laundry List of Hoaxes/Self-Deceptions
Sokal (see his web site)
runestone and Kari Ellen Gade (Lexis-Nexis)
Kamerer (A. Koestler, Case of the Midwife Toad)
(Wm. McKinney’s Ph.D. thesis)
Man (essay by Stephen Jay Gould)
in Mismeasure of Man
– Samuel George
– Broca and
Frauds in Science
Cyril Burt represents a typical cause of fraud - the scientist sincerely
believes that data will eventually turn out to support their hypothesis. It
starts out more like “floating” a check than forging a check, but
then gets out of hand.
displays offer an interesting borderline case:
Parson’s Drawing Out Leviathan
tells about the dinosaur with the wrong head.
Dubious Science Inspired by Religion
interpretation of data and the evaluation of theories is sometimes explicitly
influenced by religious or political convictions. Examples:
– Islamic Science
(critiqued by Pervez Hoodbhoy)
Science (critiqued by Meera Nanda)
– Creation Science
(critiqued by Philip Kitcher and Michael Ruse)
Science (critiqued by Bernard Ortiz de Montellano)
Mathematics (defended by Jphn Kellermeier)
How to Focus Discussion of Such a Broad Topic
Pick a specific bone of
Try to sort out exactly
what values/beliefs are in conflict in this instance.
Can people with certain
sorts of religious beliefs ever be accepted into the scientific community as it
is presently constituted?
Do such people
contribute anything to science? Do their alternative suggestions or sceptical
disclaimers ever help science or are they almost always a hindrance?
Lots of Topics in Archeology
man (constraints on scientific research from Native American
• Who do
artifacts belong to? Should cultures with good museums, etc. protect them for
peoples at war or lacking in good facilities?
D. Vitelli, ed., Archeological Ethics