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On Fact and Fraud:
Cautionary Tales from the Front Lines of Science
David Goodstein

Hardcover | 2010 | $30.95 | £25.95 | ISBN: 9780691139661
176 pp. | 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 | 22 halftones.
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Fraud in science is not as easy to identify as one might think. When accusations of scientific misconduct occur, truth can often be elusive, and the cause of a scientist's ethical misstep isn't always clear. On Fact and Fraud looks at actual cases in which fraud was committed or alleged, explaining what constitutes scientific misconduct and what doesn't, and providing readers with the ethical foundations needed to discern and avoid fraud wherever it may arise.

In David Goodstein's varied experience--as a physicist and educator, and as vice provost at Caltech, a job in which he was responsible for investigating all allegations of scientific misconduct--a deceptively simple question has come up time and again: what constitutes fraud in science? Here, Goodstein takes us on a tour of real controversies from the front lines of science and helps readers determine for themselves whether or not fraud occurred. Cases include, among others, those of Robert A. Millikan, whose historic measurement of the electron's charge has been maligned by accusations of fraud; Martin Fleischmann and Stanley Pons and their "discovery" of cold fusion; Victor Ninov and the supposed discovery of element 118; Jan Hendrik Schön from Bell Labs and his work in semiconductors; and J. Georg Bednorz and Karl Müller's discovery of high-temperature superconductivity, a seemingly impossible accomplishment that turned out to be real.

On Fact and Fraud provides a user's guide to identifying, avoiding, and preventing fraud in science, along the way offering valuable insights into how modern science is practiced.


"The strength of this slim volume is that the author knows and understands his subject well and can talk from experience and from the heart."--Michael J.G. Farthing, Times Higher Education

"Physicist David Goodstein asks why some scientists are driven to misrepresent results. His book On Fact and Fraud uses well-known cases to look at how science is conducted and to remind us that not all 'fraudulent' scientists are guilty."--Joanne Baker and Sara Abdulla, Nature

"A textbook on scientific ethics that begins with a primer on inductive reasoning and ends with university guidelines for research conduct sounds dull, but David Goodstein has created an entertaining book studded with laugh-out-loud moments. . . . Goodstein's candour and humour make this book a delight to read, and he's very good at explaining physics, too."--Jonathan Beard, New Scientist

"Offers a short and engaging education for those who want to know more about understanding and detecting true fraud. . . . Since scientific fraud is not going away, we need greater understanding and education to help us detect and deal with it. David Goodstein's book fulfils an important need. This is a valuable book and one not to be missed."--Laura H. Greene, Physics World

"I was very happy to find a book that starts out from the same assumption that I have: that cases of fraud in science--including alleged, suspected and actual cases--can reveal something about the way science works. On Fact and Fraud: Cautionary Tales from the Front Lines of Science is an accessible, well-written contribution to a relatively understudied area."--Eugenie Samuel Reich, Geochemical News

"On Fact and Fraud is a thought-provoking analysis of scientific ethics and, in particular, the way the 'reward system' and 'authority structure' of research can lead people astray."--Clive Cookson, Financial Times

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Table of Contents:

List of Illustrations ix
Preface xi
Chapter One: Setting the Stage 1
Chapter Two: In the Matter of Robert Andrews Millikan 29
Chapter Three: Bad News in Biology 51
Chapter Four: Codifying Misconduct: Evolving Approaches in the 1990s 59
Chapter Five: The Cold Fusion Chronicles 69
Chapter Six: Fraud in Physics 97
Chapter Seven: The Breakthrough That Wasn’t Too Good to Be True 107
Chapter Eight: What Have We Learned? 127
Appendix: Caltech Policy on Research Misconduct 135
Acknowledgments 147
Notes 149
Index 155

This book has been translated into:

  • Korean
  • Italian

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