Friday, January 05, 2007

Fraud: institutional or individual disease?

I found this article on fraud extremely interesting. There's also an editorial in the same issue, saying the only way to fight fraud is for individuals to take charge.

I think this raises interesting questions about whether scientists are unusually naive or delusional about human nature, and whether this mindset that people are generally good and well-intentioned is required or selected for in academia.

All of my advisors, save one, have been of the opinion that people are generally honest.

The one who believes most people will get away with as much as they can... is the most successful out of all of them.

So, tell us what you think. I tend to agree with the article's conclusion- that fraud arises due to institutional and system-wide sickness. I do believe that when a system puts too much pressure on people, they get desperate and do things they wouldn't do otherwise.

Witness today's episode: yet another MsPhD Counsels Young Female about PI taking out his bad mood on everyone around him. This particular PI is basically a good guy, but like every other human being on the planet, gets grouchy sometimes.

If stress can take a perfectly nice person and make them growl, what can continued unrealistic pressure do to a middlingly nice person? You do the math.



At 7:26 AM, Blogger Nicole said...

Couldn't agree more with you. It's an institutional problem that induces dishonest behavior. Great post, great blog.


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