It was a new wrinkle in a bombshell story. Not one, but two superstar researchers appear to have independently faked data for two separate, highly publicized studies about (irony of ironies!) dishonesty. The academics under scrutiny are Francesca Gino, a behavioral scientist at Harvard Business School, and Dan Ariely, a celebrity behavioral economist from Duke. Among the research papers co-authored by Gino and Ariely is one entitled “The Dark Side of Creativity: Original Thinkers Can Be More Dishonest.” The one that first got them in trouble argued that people who were required to sign official forms before filling them out gave more honest information than those who signed at the end.
Revelations of suspected wrongdoing in the research were first reported on the blog Data Colada, which is run by three behavioral scientists, including Berkeley business professor Leif Nelson. They use the site to call into question problematic findings in their field and publicize dubious practices such as data dredging and so-called p-hacking, commonly used to misrepresent data. Nobel Prize–winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman, Ph.D. ’61, calls the trio “heroes of mine” for their work, which he says has made him increasingly skeptical. “When I see a surprising finding, my default is not to believe it,” he told the New York Times. “Twelve years ago, my default was to believe anything that was surprising.”