Major Fraud Plea Has University Scientists Regretting Journal Article

Just days after federal prosecutors concluded one of the nation’s largest fraud settlements involving a single drug, at least some university researchers are retreating from a medical-journal article that helped sell the medicine to children.

Denis Daneman, a professor and chair of pediatrics at the University of Toronto, said he had asked the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, which published the 2003 article evaluating the schizophrenia medication Risperdal, to remove his name from it.

And one of…


A Disease Ecologist and His Discontents

The white-footed mouse, a favored home of the Lyme bacterium. Copyright John White

The white-footed mouse, a favored home of the Lyme bacterium. Copyright John White

If we save the animals, do we, in the end, save ourselves?

There is so much nature can do for us. It can clean our water. Absorb our carbon. Inspire us. Each of those benefits can be quantified, in the language of modern conservation, as an “ecosystem service,” as I describe this week in The Chronicle Review.

The stories behind some services are more alluring than others: Few people become environmentalists out of…


In Vancouver, a Young Science Confronts Its Limits

Black rockfish

Consider, if you will, the black rockfish.

Its skin a mottled black-gray, its belly white, and its dorsal fin spiny, the black rockfish is a saltwater species of unremarkable size and value. It’s a common catch off Vancouver Island, but only a blip in British Columbia’s commercial fishing haul. Sport fishermen, many from First Nation tribes, catch the rockfish occasionally, sure, but if you were appraising a fishery solely on the monetary value it provides—a strategy at the core…


Critics Say Sting on Open-Access Journals Misses Larger Point

Perhaps months from now, when the dust settles and academics really look back at it, they’ll find some hard lessons in the elaborate Science magazine exposé this week by the journalist John Bohannon.

After more than a year of work, in which Mr. Bohannon, who has a Ph.D. in biology, crafted a fraudulent cancer-research article and painstakingly tracked the responses to it from more than 300 journals, he gave his industry the embarrassing news that 157 of them had agreed to publish it.

“The data…


Hallucinations Happen, and That Can Be OK

Fish feeding

One hallmark of the revolution in psychiatric research begun by the National Institute of Mental Health, as I explored in The Chronicle Review last week, is the sliding scale of the many symptoms that, together, compose the traditional psychiatric disorders. There is no on or off switch for mental illness, researchers say. There is only a dial.

For some disorders this makes intuitive sense; few people balk at the idea of being a little depressed or anxious. We’re human. It comes with the territ…


High in Sky, a Refrain: ‘Squawk, Data’

A red kite, sans blog. Copyright Sean Gray

A red kite, sans blog. Copyright Sean Gray

Like any young adult moving to a strange new land—a common occurrence at this time of year—Wyvis, a resident of Scotland, took to blogging about her new home in late August.

Out on her own, far from relatives, she was making long trips around the farms of Durisdeer Mill, a village in the country’s southwest lowlands, she wrote. She loved the isolation. She would rest in the woodlands around Sanquhar. Then came the odd journey to the moors, worms squishi…


As Brain Research Expands, It May Not Need Major Ethical Overhaul

Not long after he proposed giving researchers $100-million to improve fundamental understandings of brain function, President Obama was worried.

How, Mr. Obama asked his bioethics commission last month, might improved technologies for reading the brain affect society in areas that include personal privacy, moral and legal accountability, stigmatization, discrimination, and measures of intelligence?

On Tuesday the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues began tackling that ques…


Study Casts Skeptical Light on Campus ‘Hookup Culture’

New York—The photo depicts a young woman in bed, one bare leg exposed, under the headline: “Sex on Campus: She Can Play That Game, Too.” This recent story in The New York Times is the latest addition to the stack of articles and scholarly studies that examine the “hookup culture” on college campuses.

To Martin A. Monto, a professor of sociology at the University of Portland, the hookup discussion conveys a sense of moral panic—and an impression that young people are having more no-strings-atta…


The Hidden Biases That Shape Inequality

New York—Take two equivalently qualified job candidates. One is known to be a parent. The other is not a parent.

With experimental scenarios like these, researchers have found substantial evidence of bias against mothers. In the studies of Shelley Correll, a professor of sociology at Stanford, childless women were roughly twice as likely to be called back or recommended for hire by an employer. And when childless women were recommended for a job, they were offered salaries approximately $11,000 …


The Magic Ratio That Wasn’t

Positivity-9780307393746 (1)The 2009 book Positivity: Top-Notch Research Reveals the 3 to 1 Ratio That Will Change Your Life, by Barbara Fredrickson, was praised by the heavyweights of psychology. Daniel Gilbert said it provided a “scientifically sound prescription for joy.” Daniel Goleman extolled its “surefire methods for transforming our lives.” Martin E.P. Seligman, often called the father of positive psychology, raved that “this book, like Barb, is the ‘real thing.’”

But the top-notchness of the research that underpin…