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Watts Up With That?

Stanford researchers uncover patterns in how scientists lie about their data

When scientists falsify data, they try to cover it up by writing differently in their published works. A pair of Stanford researchers have devised a way of identifying these written clues.

white-coated doctor with hands behind his back; one hand has fingers crossed in gesture indicating he's lying Andrey Popov/Shutterstock

Stanford communication scholars have devised an ‘obfuscation index’ that can help catch falsified scientific research before it is published.

Even the best poker players have “tells” that give away when they’re bluffing with a weak hand. Scientists who commit fraud have similar, but even more subtle, tells, and a pair of Stanford researchers have cracked the writing patterns of scientists who attempt to pass along falsified data.

The work, published in the Journal of Language and Social Psychology, could eventually help scientists identify falsified research before it is published.

There is a fair amount of research dedicated to…

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