Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Ethical dilemma

Dear Readers, I am making recommendations about which little-used science books to get rid of at the public library. We don't have a huge budget for new books, so we tend to err on the side of caution when deciding what to weed out of the collection. One of the books I am considering is Wild Minds, by Marc Hauser. It's less than 15 years old, apparently well-written, and on an interesting topic. However, the author resigned his Harvard professorship after the administration discovered that he had systematically falsified data in multiple studies. (This article gives a bit of an overview on the debate)

Is this kind of dishonesty enough to take Wild Minds off the shelf? We don't know how long Hauser had been dishonest in his research or whether any of the data in Wild Minds is contaminated. Moreover, most patrons won't know about Hauser when they see the book on the shelf.

Give me your arguments for and against keeping Wild Minds.

1 comment:

  1. For: it's widely held in libraries; most of the book is probably legit; it was expensive; it's well-written; readers might expect that some of the information is speculative (though not fraudulent); I don't think Harvard's investigation threw any of it into doubt (but am not sure)
    Against: He is dishonest; even if most of the content is legit, we don't know which content might not be legit.