Discussion Paper


Peirce and Royce and the Betrayal of Science: Scientific

Fraud and Misconduct




It is argued that the ideas of Peirce and Royce on science and scientific method can help illuminate the issues surrounding scientific fraud and misconduct. The nature of contemporary scientific fraud and misconduct will be delineated as illustration.  The ideas of Peirce and Royce discussed  include the self-corrective nature of the scientific method; the insistence on individual experience as the starting point of inquiry; an emphasis on scientific instinct and imaginative judgment in forming hypotheses; the requirement of  proper motive or good intention as a necessary condition, along with the correct method, to the success and essence of science; the stress on science as a communal endeavor, dependent on the contributions of many others past, present, and future and convictions about the thoroughly human and fallible nature of science.


            This paper argues that the long neglected ideas on science and scientific method of Charles Sanders Peirce and Josiah Royce [1] can illuminate some of the current attacks on science that have surfaced: misconduct and fraud in science and anti-scientism or the “new cynicism.” The topic of misconduct and deviance in science has been much discussed in the literature since the mid 1980’s.[2]  The issues are political, economic, social, ethical, and distinctly philosophical.  The most fundamental question concerns the “nature of science” and the consequent query whether the scientific community has lost its way, betraying the foundations of its validity as an intellectual enterprise.  Thus, Horace Freeland Judson, in his book, The Great Betrayal: Fraud in Science, asserts that “the scrutiny of the nature of fraud and other misconduct will reach to the heartbeat and pulse of what the sciences are and what scientists can do at this, the start of the millennium.”[3]  Science is under attack in second way, as Susan Haack makes clear in her book, Defending Science- within reason, where she discusses extensively the new “anti-scientism, a position she calls the “new cynicism,” namely, that “Science is largely or wholly a matter of interests, social negotiation or myth-making, the production of inscriptions or narratives; not only does it have no peculiar epistemic authority and no uniquely rational method, but it is really, like all purported ‘inquiry,’ just politics.”[4]

 ‘Science’ has, at least in Western culture, “usually been associated with ‘seeking the truth’ in a controlled honest way.”[5]  Science is viewed as the pursuit of ‘certified’ knowledge. [6]  Or again, “Because science, in particular, is grounded in abstract and systematic theory and rationality, it has been regarded as the prototype for a professional claim to authoritative knowledge.”[7]  Finally, science is viewed as a norm-driven and self-regulating enterprise.  Thus, in 1973, Robert K. Merton set out set of four norms or institutional imperatives: (1) Universalism- evaluating claims by pre-established impersonal criteria; (2) Communality or common ownership- substantial findings of science are a product of social collaboration and rewards to individuals are conferred by the community; (3) Disinterestedness- research should be guided not by personal motives but by the wish to extend scientific knowledge; and (4) Organized skepticism- scientists should examine openly, honestly, and critically each others’ work.[8]  Each of these norms, as we shall see, had been earlier stated by both Peirce and Royce.

What then has gone wrong today? Our exploration of the ideas of Peirce and Royce will reveal that science has lost its understanding of itself as a “communal endeavor,” or, in Royce’s terms, as a “community of interpretation.  Both Peirce and Royce understood the social and communal nature of the scientific community and its link to the epistemic authority of science, to its ability to be self-correcting and viable as a “public” method of inquiry. This understanding is threatened today by a strongly individualistic and economic view of the scientific enterprise as well as the breakdown of standard self-checks in science such as replication and peer review. As for the problem addressed by Haack, Peirce and Royce claimed neither too much nor too little for science[9], for they viewed science as a fallible, yet genuinely progressive epistemic endeavor. Imagination plays a key role in science but not at the expense of coming into direct contact with an external and stubborn reality.  Thus, in sum, I argue that both Royce and Peirce have crucial insights for understanding the current challenges to science as set out by Judson and Haack. 


Peirce and Royce: Science’s Communal Foundation for Epistemic Authority

                Charles S. Peirce wrote extensively on scientific method, particularly on the nature and foundations of inductive inference. He claimed that “self-correction” is the definitive character of induction, that inductive reasoning can be checked and improved by inductive means, i.e. induction is self-monitoring. [10]  Although this claim has been criticized by some philosophers, Nicholas Rescher believes Peirce's view to be correct and he states as the central aim of his book on Peirce, to “endeavor to rehabilitate this aspect of Peirce’s theory of scientific method, arguing that his views on the inductive corrigibility of our inductive practices are both coherent and cogent.”[11]  The key for Peirce lies with what is called “quantitative induction,” which is based on the notion that the observed frequency of some target property in a sample may be taken as an indicator of an actual frequency. [12]  The main point for Peirce is that the effectiveness of quantitative induction is a matter of mathematical principle.  He asserts:

Therefore, if the character manifested by the series up to a certain point is not that character which the entire series possesses, still as the series goes on, it must eventually tend, however, irregularly, towards becoming so; and all the rest of the reasoner’s life will be a continuation of this inferential process.  This inference does not depend upon the assumption that the series will be endless, or that the future will be like the past, or that nature is uniform, nor upon any material assumption whatever!  (CP 2.784 (c.1905)


            Peirce’s claims are premised upon two basic kinds of scientific induction—qualitative and quantitative (statistical).  Qualitative induction consists of two processes: (1) abduction- imaginatively positing a series of hypothesis to account for observed phenomenon; and (2) retroduction-eliminating hypotheses by experiential, experimental testing.  The hypothesis that fares best is tentatively adopted until it is overthrown by a further sequence of hypothesis projection and testing.  This, as others have observed, is the familiar hypothetical-deductive method and, additionally obvious, it is also a self-correcting method for individual hypotheses.  More importantly, however, in Peirce’s view, qualitative induction can be correctively monitored by quantitative induction.  Rescher captures the essence of Peirce’s view when he writes:  “This process of theory and acceptance can be monitored statistically in terms of the applications of theories.  Each time we employ a theory for prediction or for actual control (using it to guide intervention in the course of natural events to produce a desired outcome), we contribute to the statistical sample population by which its credentials are monitored.”[13]  The issue is a “success ratio,” i.e. the number of successful applications in terms of prediction and control over the total number of such applications. Peirce’s emphasis on self-correction and monitoring are clearly related to Merton’s norm of “organized skepticism,” and our common sense understanding of the role in science of the “replication of results.” 

            Josiah Royce, found Peirce’s analysis of induction compelling and in accordance with his own views.  In several essays, Royce argues that the canonical scientific method should be “statistical,” and he develops what he calls Peirce’s “insurance theory of induction.”[14]  In an unpublished essay, recently made available, Royce writes that the logician, viewing the field of inductive inference, can not assure the individual investigator whether his inferences are correct or not, because inductive reasoning has only probable value.  But this probable value allows the logician to say: “I can tell you [that] if you infer thus or thus, the method of your inference is such, that if the scientific community consists of people who follow such methods, a more or less exactly definable proportion of the inferences made by such a scientific community will turn out to be right inferences.”[15]  Royce then uses the insurance model to further describe the method of induction. 

If you, the individual investigator, regard the work that you do as an observer, as a reasoner, as your contribution, as, if you please, the premium that you pay for the result that you want to secure through making this contribution to the work or science; [again] if you regard as your beneficiary so much of the scientific community as happens to continue to follow your methods, in your branch of science-that is, if your beneficiary is the group of scientific investigators to which you belong; [and again] if you regard the whole community which insures you as the whole body of scientific investigators in this and in all future tine, then, indeed, I, the logician can say to you this:  By the premium that you pay in following good methods as you can, you in the first place insure that, in so far as your methods are followed by your science, the little community of workers (who work in your science and according to your methods) shares in whatever benefits accrue in the long run to the whole body of scientific investigators.  …In these benefits, your science will share, if you help your fellow workers to follow good inductive methods, or if in your own way you tend to create the minor community of your special science, which by making the good type of inference conforms to precisely that sort of thinking which leads the total scientific community towards a continual progressive power to discover the truths of nature.”[16]


This statement by Royce makes clear that the foundation for the success- though only probable success-- of proper scientific methods is their practice by and for the community of investigators.  This theme will become clearer as we examine other aspects of Peirce and Royce’s notions on science and scientific method.

Thus we turn to some aspects of Peirce’s views on scientific method: (1) his insistence on individual experience as the starting point of inquiry; (2) his emphasis on instinct and imaginative judgment in forming hypotheses; (3) his emphasis on proper motive or good intention as a necessary condition, along with proper method, to the success and essence of science; (4) his stress on science as a communal endeavor, dependent on the contributions of many others past, present, and future and (5) his fallibilism.  As we shall see, Royce also emphasized, in varying ways, each of these ideas.

             Peirce affirms that all knowledge whatever comes from observation. [17]  “Every inquiry whatsoever takes its rise in the observation…of some surprising phenomenon, some experience which either disappoints an expectation, or breaks in upon some habit of expectation...”[18]  However, in our experiencing, we find an accumulated background of experience as well as an operative cognitive background.  Peirce writes: “Experience…is the cognitive result of our past lives.”  Peirce speaks of the past as our own inertia, the force against which new phenomena strikes.  Royce notes that “we report facts; we let the facts speak; but we, as we investigate…’talk back.’”[19]

             For Peirce, both instinctive judgment and imagination also play a key role in scientific method, particularly in abduction.  By instinct, or the power of the mind, the scientist is able to eliminate foolish explanations and test right hypotheses.[20] In his essay, “How to Theorize,” Peirce argues that man’s mind is continuous with the rest of the cosmos and thus, one would expect agreement between the ideas which present themselves to the human mind and those which exist in the laws of nature.  One, says Peirce, would expect that man should have a “natural light…an instinctive insight...that will guide him to a correct or nearly correct conjecture about these laws.[21]  Further, argues Peirce, great physicists of history such as Galileo, have given credit to instinctive judgment in their work. [22] For Peirce, hypothesis projection in abduction is based on “guesswork guided by scientifically trained intuition.”[23] `Peirce believed this intuitive scientific instinct crucial to the advancement of science.  If he is correct, then the breakdown today of mentorship and apprenticeship in much of science should cause alarm.

Peirce also discussed the role of imagination in scientific method. He writes: “The scientific imagination dreams of explanations and laws.” [24]  He develops this ideas as follows: “When a man desires already to know the truth, his first effort will be to imagine what that truth can be…It remains true that there is, after all, nothing but imagination that can every supply him an inkling of the truth.  He can stare stupidly at phenomena, but, in the absence of imagination they will not connect themselves together in any rational way.” (CP 1.46) 

            Royce also stressed the role of imagination, but in a different manner from Peirce.  Royce believed that the progress of science largely depends upon the more or less provisional choice of “leading ideas.”  A leading idea is a hypothesis that is used as a guide or a regulative principle of one’s research.  He cites as an example, Virchow’s idea that diseases merely “show us the course of vital processes under altered conditions.”[25]  Royce sees this as equivalent to a resolution to search for the concrete connection between the processes of any disease and the normal process of the organism.  About these leading ideas, Royce writes:

                        …Observation does not, at least for the time, either confirm or refute them.  But on the other hand, they awaken interest in vast ranges of observation and experiment, and sustain the patience

and enthusiasm…through long and baffling investigations…Specialism, without leading ideas, remains but a sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal. [26]


Royce was disdainful of those who were concluding, in his time, that given the decline of scientific orthodoxy, one must turn to pure positivism, namely, to forgo pursuit of theoretical unification and to concentrate instead on an increasing wealth of detailed information.  For them the results of science were coextensive with the range of actual observation and of successful prediction.  In his Introduction to The Foundations of Science by Henri Poincaré, Royce begins by reaffirming that scientists must always accept only the verdict of experience, “In any case your special science prospers by reason of the empirical discoveries you make.  And your theories, whatever they are, must not run counter to any possible empirical results.”[27]  Yet, argues Royce, the importance of Poincaré’s volume is “a substantial justification of the scientific utility of theoretical construction—an abandonment of dogma, but a vindication of the rights of the constructive reasons.”[28]  Royce summarizes his view as follows:

            We report facts; we let the facts speak; but we, as we investigate, in the popular phrase, ’talk back’ to the facts.  We interpret as well as report.  Man is not merely made for science, but science is made for man.  It expresses his deepest intellectual needs. As well as his careful observations….the theories of science are human, as well as objective, internally rational as well as (when that is possible, subject to external tests. [29]


This view seems in concert with that of Peirce.  Frances E. Reilly, comments on Peirce's “critical common-sensism.”  This view, he says, “respects common-sense’s indubitable presentations of experience combined with the brilliant and free leaps of imagination and instinct and the carefully controlled criticisms of the verification process.”[30] This view appears to be that argued by Susan Haack when she writes: “…scientific observation is active and selective; it calls for talent, skills, and sometimes special training or background knowledge, as well as patience and sharp eyes.”[31]   

 Peirce also argues for motive or good intention as important to the validity of the investigative process. The scientist is distinguished by his search for knowledge for its own sake.  Peirce is clear that the self-corrective character of inquiry is motivated by the true scientific spirit; a diluted motive, he believes, distorts the method.  (See CP 1.671)  Thus Peirce defines science as follows:

            If we define science…in the sense of characterizing it as a living historic entity… it does not consist so much in knowing, not even in organized knowledge, as it does in diligent inquiry into truth for truth’s sake, without any sort of axe to grind, nor for the sake of the delight of contemplating it, but from the impulse to penetrate into the reason of things…It is not knowing but the love of learning, that characterizes the scientific man…If a man burns to learn and sets himself to comparing his ideas with experimental results in order that he may correct those ideas, every scientific man will recognize him as a brother…But if a man occupies himself with investigating the truth of some question for some ulterior purpose, such as to make money, or amend his life, or to benefit his fellows, he may be ever so better than a scientific man,…but he is not a scientific man.”  (CP 1.44f)


Peirce makes his point again as he writes:


            Inquiry of every type, fully carried out, has the vital power of self-correction and of growth.  This is a property so deeply saturating its inmost nature that it may truly be said that there is one thing needed for learning the truth, and that is a hearty and active desire to learn the truth.  If you really want to learn the truth, you will…be surely led in the way of the truth at last.  No matter how erroneous your ideas of the method may be at first, you will be forced at length to correct them so long as your activity is moved by that sincere desire.  (CP 5.582)


This connection between method and motive is, in my judgment, a better statement of the intention of Merton’s norm of “disinterestedness.”  Royce also thought motive important to the validity of scientific and other inquiry.  He writes:  “There is, then, a very close connection between the ethical attitude of the scientific inquirer and the characteristic attitude of the loyal man…the scientific methods like the practical methods of the loyalist depend upon a clearly conscious interest in the common social interest.”

            Above all for Royce, though natural science depends upon the experiences of individuals for every one of its advances in the knowledge of the facts of nature, it is sufficient confirmation of the community of science that counts.  He writes:

            ...the individual observor’s discoveries have first to be interpreted to the scientific community and then substantiated by the further experience of that community, before they belong to science.  In other words, the work of science is what, in the athletic phrase, is called team work.  The spirit of science is one of loyalty to a community of interpretation.[32]


            …The individual has made his discovery, but it is a scientific discovery only in the case it can become, through further confirmation, the property and experience of the community of scientific observers.[33]

            …Isolated observations of individuals, even when these individuals are of the highest grade of expertness, are always unsatisfactory…the acknowledged facts of a natural science are the possessions of the community.”[34]


Peirce, likewise, asserts the social character of science and scientific knowledge.  For him, thought, like reality is characterized by growth.  It grows in individual minds and the community of minds, and is dependent on predecessors and followers.  He writes: 

            Science looks upon this pursuit [of eternal verities] not as the work of one man’s life, but as that of generation after generation, indefinitely. (CP 5.589)


That which constitutes science, then, is not so much correct conclusions, as it is correct method.  But the method of science is itself a scientific result…it was a historical attainment and a scientific achievement.  (CP 6.428)


The validity of scientific method and the authority of science, for Royce and Peirce, are grounded in community, the work of the community of science.

            And, for both Royce and Peirce, the road to inquiry must not be blocked; it continues to go forward indefinitely.  For Royce, interpretation is an ongoing, indefinite process.  He, like, Perice, is a fallibilist.  “Fallibilism” keeps open inquiry.  It does not want science to cease, either from a presumptive boast of final certitude, or from the despairing suicide of final skepticism.  Royce speaks of the interpreter as a person of humility and hope.  Peirce speaks of “reverence” for the magnificence of nature and argues that “humility before the meagerness of his knowledge should characterize the scientist’s spirit.”  Thus, neither Royce or Peirce, fall into the black-white trap portrayed by Haack, namely, the contrast between “Old Derentialism” with its emphasis on the logic of science, rationality and objectivity, and “New Cynicism,” which its emphasis on power, politics, and rhetoric.[35]  Indeed, both classical American philosophers would agree with Haack’s own statement about science: “Science has managed to discover a great deal about the world and how it works, but it is a thoroughly human enterprise, messy, fallible and fumbling…”[36]

The Misconduct Challenge to Science

            How, then, is science today endangering its claim to trust and to authority? One way is through fraud and misconduct, usually defined to incorporate three kinds of activities: (1) Fabrication, i.e., faking data; (2) Falsification, i.e. manipulating obtained data; and (3) Plagiarism, i.e. purloining of another’s ideas, methods, results, and publishing them as one’s own. [37]  Although there is evidence of some misconduct of this nature among prominent historical figures in science,[38] attention to misconduct issues came to fore in the 1980’s.  Among the early cases were those of  William T. Summerlin, Chief of Transplant Immunology at the Sloan-Kettering Institute of Cancer Research, John Darsee, Harvard School of Medicine, and Stephen Bruening, psychologist at the University of Pittsburg. These were cases of “fabrication,” and they were committed by prodigy figures with numerous publications. There were also two well-known plagiarism cases.  The first was that of Vijay Soman of Yale, who reviewed a paper by Helen Wachslicht-Rodbard for The New England Journal of Medicine and then essentially sent her paper to the American Journal of Medicine as his paper. A more egregious case was that of Elias Alsabti who was found to have plagiarized over eighty articles.  These cases all occurred in 1980-81.  May, 1985 began the long and torturous Baltimore affair with charges of fabricated data provided by Thereza Imanishi-Kari for an article in the prestigious journal, Cell, co-authored by Nobel David Baltimore.[39]

            These fraud cases raised issues about epistemic authority, about authorship and mentorship and about self-correcting mechanisms such as peer review.  They also demonstrated a deep reluctance of scientists and the community of science to acknowledge a problem.  The Summerlin and Darsee cases involved protégés of famous mentors, Robert Good, renowned immunologist and President of Sloan, and Eugene Braunwald, a Harvard cardiologist of great statue with 31/2 million dollars of NIH grants.  Summerlin claimed he had grafted tissue from black mice to white mice and that the cornea grafts had survived for six months.  He was discovered through an incident in an elevator in which he was seen making black marks on white mice.  Darsee’s research was on heart muscle damage and recovery prospects.  The mentors in both cases expressed surprise and hurt about the actions of their protégés; both were slow to act; Braunwald also failed to inform Darsee’s collaborators and his former university, Emory, about their risk.  The Summerlin and Darsee cases were labeled by the scientific community as cases of “bad apples” and “psychological disturbance.”  Philip Handler, President of the National Academy of Sciences, dismissed the Darsee case and the attention to fraud in science as “grossly exaggerated.” Such cases, he argued, are “rare acts,” those of deranged individuals, displaying psychopathic behavior and bad judgment. [40]  Darsee’s mentor, Eugene Braunwald, noted that he would never have kept him if he had known “how seriously disturbed a person he was.”[41]  Lewis Thomas of the Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center noted that Summerlin “is suffering from a serious emotional disturbance and has been placed on medical leave with full pay.”[42]  Researchers on scientific deviance postulate that the “bad person” approach to explaining deviant behavior is least threatening to the status quo and deflects attention and potential criticisms from institutions.[43]  In fact, the scientific community and, even governmental agencies, continued to maintain that the “fraud problem” was either psychological, e.g., the acts of disturbed individuals, or certainly rare in the number of instances.  However, a 1993 study revealed that the problem was not rare and might even be a “tip of the iceberg” issue.[44]

The Soman plagiarism case raised questions about mentorship, authorship, and peer review.  Philip Felig, Vice Chair of the Department at the Yale School of Medicine gave the Wachslicht-Rodbard paper to Soman to review.  Soman produced a negative review, purloined the paper and published it in another journal with Felig as a co-author. 

Bruening’s work was on the benefits of narcoleptics on severely retarded children who mutilate themselves.  His claim that these were not beneficial and his recommendation of the use of Ritalin and other stimulants helped shape public policy and medical treatment.  This case and the Baltimore case raise the issue of the role of whistleblowers in scientific misconduct.  Bruening’s mentor at the University of Pittsburgh, Robert Sprague, exposed the fraud, but became himself a target of a three year NIH probe. [45] Margot O’Toole, a post-doc fellow, was the primary whistle blower in the Baltimore case, later backed by a reluctant Charles Mapplethorpe, another post doc fellow.  On April 11, 1988, at a meeting of the Human Relations and Intergovernmental Relations Subcommittee of the Committee on Governmental Operations of the U. S. House, Chair Ted Weiss (D-NY) stated: “Scientists who had blown the whistle on fraudulent research described how they had been vilified by colleagues and senior administrators and how the investigations prompted by their allegations had been repeatedly delayed at all institutional levels.”[46]

            The Baltimore case raised additional issues about the practices and standards of science on authorship and verification of data.  When serious doubts were raised about the data provided by Imanishi-Kari for the article in Cell, of which he was listed as co-author, David Baltimore argued that the claims, not the data, in a paper were the most important.  He said “…since basically everything in the paper now has been supported by other data, then there’s absolutely no reason to doubt it.” [47] Of course, later he noted that there was nothing in the data that supported a notion of “Jerne networks,” which was Imanishi-Kari’s central claim.  Two questions arise: what are the responsibilities of authorship and what is the status in science today of verification of data and results?

            Gift authorship and honorary authorship has become a standard practice in science with authors listed who have had very little or even no participation in the actual research.  This practice may, in fact, disguise an impossible amount of work by a single person, and thus lead to failure to detect fraud or to facilitating easy plagiarism. Drummond Rennie, deputy editor of JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) west, noted: “Authorship no longer carries the responsibility it should-the ability to justify intellectually the entire contents of an article.”[48]  Paul Doty, an eminent biochemist, wrote a series of columns in Nature dressing down Baltimore and the scientific community for tolerating his behavior. Doty wrote: “This pattern of behavior stands in deep contrast to the traditional view that authors of scientific papers have a special obligation to be responsive to criticism and to test their work from every possible angle.”[49]  Gerald Edelman, Nobel in immunology, stated, “A scientist repeats his experiment when challenged, period.”[50]

            Surprisingly, however, a standard self-corrective measure of science, namely, replication and testing of results, seems rarely to be a practice today.  As the literature on scientific misconduct makes clear, replication is rarely undertaken.  It is not usually funded; journals rarely publish negative results; replication is not considered prestigious or interesting to contemporary scientists who have been “trained to innovate;” and direct entry of data in computers and reliance on expensive and rare technology make replication difficult or not possible.[51]  Another self-correcting measure, peer-review for journals and referring for grant applications, also is seen today to have serious problems.[52]  Peer review of articles

has been made more difficult by the tremendous expansion of the number of journals and the number of articles submitted, by the increasing specialization of various areas of science, and by the fierce competition for funding and recognition.  Further, reviewers remain anonymous and thus plagiarism can occur, as it did in the Soman case.  In 2002, Robert Horton, editor of Lancelot, a prestigious British research journal, conducted a study to answer the question: “whether the views expressed in a research paper are accurate representations of contributors’ opinions about the research being reported.  He reported his results in an article, “The hidden research agenda,” published in JAMA in June, 2002.  His conclusions were as follows:

            The results of this qualitative Study show that a research paper rarely represents the full range of opinion of those scientists whose work it claims to report.  I have found evidence of [self-] censored criticism; obscured views about the meaning of research findings; incomplete, confused, and sometimes biased assessment of the implications of a study; and frequent failure to indicate directions for further research…What was striking was the inconsistency in publishing evaluations, especially regarding weaknesses…

            A scientific paper is an exercise in rhetoric; that is, the paper is designed to persuade or at least convey to the reader a particular point of view.  When one probes beneath the surface, one will find a hidden research paper that reveals the true diversity of opinion among contributors about the meaning of their research findings.  For both readers and editors, the views expressed in a research paper are governed by forces that are clear to nobody, perhaps not even to the contributors themselves.


As already indicated, authorship no longer seems to carry the sense of responsibility and certification of scientific results as it was once assumed to do.  Horton’s report also seems to lend credence to the views of the “New Cynicism.”

            Peer review of grant applications fares no better as a self-correcting mechanism.  Over the years the dedication and enthusiasm of panel members has waned; the work load has become onerous, and the ranking has become extremely difficult with smaller numbers of grants being funded. There are charges of bias and

unfairness with only the top people and places receiving funding. In 2004, for example, close to one in five extramural NIH dollars went to only 10 of the 3,000 institutions that received grants and five US states got almost half of all funding. [53]  Because of this elitism and selectivity, there is also the claim of unreliability, namely, that the process is not effective in choosing the best work.  In 1993, Harold Varmus, Director of NIH, studied the grant review process noted “the low success rate, the high number of resubmitted applications, the unwillingness of talented people to serve on study panels.”  He notes further that “They’re making distinctions between grants that are equally excellent; it’s very demoralizing to do this kind of work.”[54]  Further, many believe grant review facilitates plagiarism and the leakage of ideas.  Finally, again, repeat work has no chance of funding and thus the hope of self-correcting is lost.

It appears that the grounds for the claims of science to authoritative status and to autonomy because of self-governing mechanisms are considerably weakened.[55]  Indeed, the heavy reliance of contemporary science on federal funding coupled with the reluctant and cautious approach of the scientific community to the subject of misconduct has led the government to take various regulatory steps to control research misconduct.[56] The motives for this effort include concerns not only for fraud, waste, and abuse, but also for health and safety standards.  Thus, for example, are there are adverse effects from drug therapies and other medical technologies based on fabricated data.  The fallout from the Bruening faked data was a negative impact on mental health treatment and policy.

                        However, another central concern of governmental committees has been the matter of “trust.”  Albert Gore, Jr., Chair of the March 1981 House subcommittee on Science and Technology, the group that investigated the Summerlin, Soman, and other early cases, stated: “At the bone of our investment in research lies the trust of the American people and the integrity of the scientific enterprise.”[57]  A similar statement was made by John P. Dingall, Chair, Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, 101st Congress. 1st Session, 9 May, 1989. He notes: “The foundation of public support for science…is trust…that scientists and research institutions are engaged in the dispassionate search for truth.”[58]  Finally, in the 1990 report of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, Chair Robert A. Roe (D-New Jersey) writes: “Scientific misconduct is a general problem that threatens the health of the scientific enterprise at all levels.  There will be no greater force for maintaining the integrity of scientific research than the scientific community itself.  But the science community needs help in this endeavor…the federal government cannot fund science at ever greater levels and then turn its back on the problem of scientific misconduct.”[59]  As Roe suggests, the biggest fallout of scientific misconduct is upon the institution of science itself.  Once a scientist publishes fraudulent or misleading research results, this information “pollutes the stream of knowledge, perverts the scientific process, and sends researchers on false lines of inquiry.  ..Because honesty is central to the scientific enterprise, misconduct places the future of science at risk.”[60]


Explanations, Illuminations and Conclusions

            There are a variety of explanations in the literature for problems of misconduct in science.  One is the notion of growth and resulting complexity in terms of subjects and networks of relationships. [61] The literature on deviance in science sees complexity as part of the issue along with a low probability of detection and the perception of non-harsh punishments.


             The complicated and elaborate division of labour in science, leading to high levels of specialization, makes the detection of fraud even more remote…To this one has to add that the question of who (or what) exactly is victimized by deviance in science (and therefore who should complain and when) has not been satisfactorily resolved.[62]


Our earlier discussions, however, reveal at least two victims—science itself and the public. 

            Other explanations included the increased marriage of government and science and business and science. An underlying assumption of both marriages is that science automatically fuels capitalism. Further, science has become increasingly and extremely expensive and competition for funding is fierce.  Thus, a study on scientific deviance concludes:  “The effect of non-scientific values—wealth, power, and prestige—is changing the structural arrangements of science and increasing the interpenetration of science with business.”[63]   Peirce writes insightfully:

            The value of knowledge is, for the purpose of science, in one sense absolute.  It is not be measured, it may be said, in money; in one sense that is true….Having a certain fund of energy, time, money, etc…to spend upon research, the question is how much is to be spent on each investigation.  (CP 1:122)


            The cost of information also increases with its fullness and accuracy…It therefore may be the case that it does not pay (in any given state of science) to push the investigation beyond a certain point of fullness or precision.  (CP 1.84)


With competition also comes a sense of fierce individualism.  Discovery becomes proprietary.  Lost is the sense argued by Royce, Peirce, and Merton, that to be scientific, discovery must be seen as the property of the community.

            There are a few signs of hope.  One is the developing “open refereeing policy” of several journals.[64]  Another is the rise of open publication and interchange of scientific results on ideas on the internet.[65]  A third is there are those who are taking seriously Royce’s concern when he wrote: “That the scientific community exists is, therefore, one of the most important principles used in the natural sciences.  Often this principle is more or less subconscious.  It is seldom analyzed.”[66]





[1] Peirce is acknowledged as a philosopher of science and he wrote extensively on scientific method as well as the philosophy of nature. See: Charles S. Peirce, Essays in the Philosophy of Science, Edited with an Introduction by Vincent Tomas, Bobbs-Merrill Company, 1957; Values in a Universe of Chance: Selected Writings of Charles S. Peirce, Edited with an Introduction and Notes by Philip P. Weiner, Stanford University Press, 1958; F.E. Reilly, Charles Peirce’s Theory of Scientific Method, Fordham University Press, 1970; and Nicholas Rescher, Peirce’s Philosophy of Science: Critical Studies in his Theory of Induction and Scientific Method, University of Notre Dame Press, 1978.  Although Royce’s work in philosophy of science is lesser known, he too wrote on the nature, aims, and limits of science as well as on scientific methodology. 

[2] See for example: Horace Freeland Judson. The Great Betrayal: Fraud in Science, Harcourt, Inc. 2004; Mary Frank Fox & John Braxton. “Misconduct and Social Control in Science: Issues, Problems, and Solutions,” Journal of Higher Education, Vol. 65, No.3, Special Issue: Perspectives on Research Misconduct, May-June, 1994, 273-283; Judith P. Swazey, Melissa S. Anderson, & Karen Seashore Lewis, “Ethical Problems in Academic Research,” American Scientist, 81:6, 1993, 543-53; Nachman Ben-Yehuda, “Deviance in Science: Towards the Criminology of Science,” The British Journal of Criminology, Vol. 26, No.1, 1-27; A. Kenneth Bechtel, Jr., & Willie Pearson, Jr., “Deviant Scientists and Scientific Deviance,” Deviant Behavior, Vol. 6, 1985, 237-52.

[3] Judson, 4.

[4] Susan Haack, Defending Science –within reason: Between Scientism and Cynicism. Amherst, New York: Prometheus Books, 2003. 21.

[5] Nachman Ben-Yehuda, “Deviance in Science: Towards a Criminology of Science,” 1.

[6] Robert K. Merton, “Science and Democratic Social Structure,” in Social Theory and Social Structure, New York: Free Press, 1968, 604-605.  In this essay Merton argues that the institutional goal of science is “the extension of certified knowledge.”

[7] Mary Frank Fox and John Braxton, “Misconduct and Social Control in Science: Issues, Problems and Solutions,” 374.

[8] Robert K. Merton, The Sociology of Science: Theoretical and Empirical Investigations, University of Chicago Press, 1974.  For discussion of the Merton’s norms, see: Ben-Yehuda, 2-3 and Horace Freeland Judson, 32-36.

[9] See also: Mary Midgley, Science as Salvation: A Modern Myth and Its Meaning, London: Routledge, 1992.

[10] See: Charles S. Peirce, “The Logic of Drawing History from Ancient Documents,” CP 7:207 (1901) Collected Papers of Charles Sanders Peirce, edited by Charles Hartshorne and Paul Weiss, The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1965- 68. References will not be listed as CP with volume and section,

[11] Rescher, p. 2.

[12] On this specific point about statistical inference, see: Wesley C. Salmon, The Foundations of Scientific Inquiry, University of Pittsburgh Press, 67.

[13] Rescher, 9

[14] Josiah Royce,” The Mechanical, Historical and the Statistical,” from Science, 39, n.s. (1914) 551-66, reprinted in Josiah Royce’s Late Writings.  A Collection of Unpublished and Scattered Works, edited by Frank M. Oppenheim, S.J., Thoemes Press, 2001, vol. I, 147-165.

[15] Josiah Royce, “The Social Character of Scientific Inquiry,” in Josiah Royce’s Late Writings: A Collection of Unpublished and Scattered Work, vol. I, 20-38. p.32.

[16] Ibid. 33.

[17] CP 1.238; 6.522; 5.392 and 5.611.

[18] CP 6.469.

[19] Josiah Royce, Introduction to H. Poincaré, The Foundations of Science, translated by G.B. Halsted, New York: The Science Press, 1913, reprinted in Royce’s Logical Essays, 268-284.

[20] CP 5.591.  See also 6.530 and 7.220.

[21] CP 5.603 and 5.604

[22] “Galileo appeals to il lune naturale at the most critical stages of his reasoning.  Kepler, Gilbert, and Harvey- not to speak of Copernicus-substantially rely upon an inward power, not sufficient to reach the truth itself, but yet supplying an essential factor to the influences carrying their minds to the truth.”  CP 5.603.

[23] Rescher, 8.

[24] CP 1.48

[25] Quoted by Royce in “Hypotheses and Leading Ideas,” in Royce’s Logical Essay, edited by Daniel S. Robinson, Dubuque, Iowa: Wm. C. brown Co., 1951, 264.

[26] Ibid., 266.

[27] Josiah Royce, “Introduction to H. Poincaré, The Foundations of Sciences, 271.

[28] Ibid. 274.

[29] Ibid. 279-80.

[30] Reilly, Charles Peirce’s Theory of Scientific Method, 45.

[31] Haack, 61.

[32] Josiah Royce, “The World of Interpretation,” in The Problem of Christianity, University of Chicago Press, 1968, 322.

[33] Ibid. 324.

[34] Ibid. 331.

[35] Haack, 9.

[36] Ibid.

[37] Judson, 5.  These activities are known as F, F, and P.

[38] See discussion in Judson about discovered misdeeds of Mendel, Darwin, Pasteur, Freud, and Millikan, pp. 45ff.  See also: A.W.F. Edwards, “Are Mendel’s results really too close?” Biological Reviews 61 (1986; 295-312; Aldolfo Martinez-Palomo, “The science of Louis Pasteur reconsidered,” The Quarterly Review of Biology 76 (March 2001); 37-45; Ullica Segersträle, “Good to the last drop? Millikan stories as ‘canned pedagogy,” Science and Engineering Ethics I, 1995: 197-214.

[39] Judson, Chapter 5, 119-243 is an extensive discussion of this case. 

[40] Judson, 112; and Marcel C. LaFollette, “The Politics of Research Misconduct: Congressional Oversight, Universities, and Science,” Journal of Higher Education, Vol. 65, No. 3: Special Issue on Research Misconduct, May-June, 1994, 271.

[41] “A Case of fraud at Harvard,” Newsweek, February 8, 1974, 89-91

[42] “False research: The Summerlin Scandal,” Science News, 1974, 349.

[43] H. Kenneth Bechtel, Jr. and Willie Pearson, Jr.,”Deviant Scientists and Scientific Deviance,” Deviant Behavior, Vol. 6, 1985, 243.

[44] Judith Swazey, Melissa S. Anderson, & Karen Seashore Lewis, « Ethical Problems in Academic Research, American Scientist 81:6, 1993, 542-53.

[45] Linda Marsa, ‘’Scientific Fraud,” Omni, 14:9, 1972, 42-43.

[46] LcFollette, 273.

[47] Judson, 210.

[48] Judson, 167.

[49] Judson, 224.

[50] Judson, 226.

[51] See: Nachman Ben-Yuhuda, “Deviance in Science: Towards the Criminology of Science,” 5-6; Judson, 39.

[52] Judson, 244-86.

[53] Alison McCook, “The Inequality of Science,” The Scientist, Vol. 20, Issue 8, August, 2006, 1-10.

[54] Judson, 262.

[55] Some of have studied the misconduct problem claim that serious misconduct is anomalous; others assert that some form of misconduct are widespread and taint a significant amount of scientific research.  See: Hagstrom,”Competition in Science, 39, American Sociological Review 1 (1974); “An Unscientific Phenomenon: Fraud Grows in the Laboratories, 81, Science Digest 38 (1977); St. James-Roberts, Cheating in Science,” 72, New Scientist 466 (1976).

[56] Numerous examples of misconduct in research funded by the federal government are reported in W. Broad , and N. Wade, Betrayers of the Truth, Simon & Shuster,, 1982; A. Kohn, False Prophets: Fraud and Error in Science and Medicine, Blackwell Publishers, 1986.

[57] This statement appears in the proceedings of a symposium held at UC, San Diego: Science, Technology and Government: A Crisis of Purpose, edited by R.C. Atkinson and W.A. Blanpied, University of California Press, 1989.

[58] John P. Dingall, “Shattoack Lecture- Misconduct in Medical Research,” The New England Journal of Medicine, 328, 3 June, 1993, 1610-15.

[59] Robert A. Roe, Committee on Science, Space and Technology. 101st Congress, 2nd Session, Maintaining the Integrity of Scientific Research, Government Printing Office, 1990. 3-4. For an overview of governmental concerns and the federal regulation of scientific misconduct see: Marcel C. LaFollette, “The Politics of Research Misconduct and Congressional Oversight.”

[60] Robert M. Anderson, Deputy General Counsel, National Science Foundation,” The Federal Government’s Role in Regulating Misconduct in Scientific and Technological Research,” The Journal of Law and Technology, 121, 1988, 124.  See also: A. Kohn, False Prophets, 11.

[61] Judson, 23-27.

[62] Ben Yuhuda, “Deviance in Science: Towards a Criminology of Science,” 8.

[63] Kenneth Bechtel, Jr. and Willie Pearson, Jr., “Deviant Scientists and Scientific Deviance,” 249.

[64] Judson, 285 ff.

[65] Ibid. 324ff.

[66] Josiah Royce, The Problem of Christianity, 331.