Good read: How a Graduate Student Reluctantly Uncovered a Huge Scientific Fraud

Sometimes things are hidden in plain sight and no-one seems to see them. This story of scientific fraud is an example. It’s not some complicated statistical method that brought the culprit down, but a very simple calculation about money. Actually, if you use the 6 questions in my previous post, this study would be in trouble too. The thing is, at first it wasn’t. The study was published in Science

From the article:

But back in 2013, the now-26-year-old Broockman, a self-identifying “political science nerd,” was so impressed by LaCour’s study that he wanted to run his own version of it with his own canvassers and his own survey sample. First, the budget-conscious Broockman had to figure out how much such an enterprise might cost. He did some back-of-the-envelope calculations based on what he’d seen on LaCour’s iPad — specifically, that the survey involved about 10,000 respondents who were paid about $100 apiece —  and out popped an imposing number: $1 million. That can’t be right, he thought to himself. There’s no way LaCour — no way any grad student, save one who’s independently wealthy and self-funded — could possibly run a study that cost so much. He sent out a Request for Proposal to a bunch of polling firms, describing the survey he wanted to run and asking how much it would cost. Most of them said that they couldn’t pull off that sort of study at all, and definitely not for a cost that fell within a graduate researcher’s budget. It didn’t make sense. What was LaCour’s secret?

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