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The Best Way To Blow the Whistle

samzenpus posted about 5 months ago | from the snitches-get-stitches dept.

Businesses 141

bmahersciwriter writes "Helene Hill thought she was close to retirement when, on a whim one day, she decided to check on a junior colleague's cell cultures. They were empty, she says, yet he produced data from them soon after. Blowing the whistle on what she thinks was research misconduct cost her 14 years and $200,000. See how she and other whistleblowers fared in this story from Nature."

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141 comments

beta max or bea slashdot ? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45544939)

Same shit!

Re:beta max or bea slashdot ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45545195)

Not the best way to blow the whistle. Besides, everyone who has had the misfortune of being the "randomly-selected few" already knows that.

Duh (3, Interesting)

Ignacio (1465) | about 5 months ago | (#45545017)

Poorly. Rock the boat, and you can expect to be thrown off. It's the Human Way.

Re:Duh (0)

kdawson (3715) (1344097) | about 5 months ago | (#45545225)

Correct. We live in the day & age where you can be expect to not be able to blow the whistle. It is like how courts are rigged. You have no 1st Ammendment rights and no 3rd Ammendment rights. (This is how the courts are rigged!)

What you need to do is just fly under the radar. Our standard of living hear in the good ol' US of A is higher than it is in other places like Europe or subsaharan africa, so deal with it! It could be a lot worse. You take the example of the N.S.A spygrid, but really what do you have to hide! Nobody is losing out buy you not leaking, so don't do it. 14 years is 14 years and it was YOUR fault if you "leaked" it. Cause and affect.

-KD

Re:Duh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45546381)

It's good to see you have just as poor a grasp of spelling and grammar as when you were an "editor".

Re:Duh (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45545237)

Poorly. Rock the boat, and you can expect to be thrown off. It's the Human Way.

Not that there's really any options for other hypothetical species either.

Re:Duh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45545515)

Should have black mailing the other researcher instead of blowing the whistle.

Re:Duh (4, Insightful)

Z00L00K (682162) | about 5 months ago | (#45546365)

It doesn't matter which kind of business you are in if you blow the whistle - you will get beaten harder than the offender.

There are other ways - anonymous leaks to the top brass, press and authorities, "accidents" causing "essential" material to disappear or be destroyed. (oops, I accidentally dropped your PC out the window... Or just a "mix-up" of PC:s at the workplace) At worst a fire cleansing.

Or you just STFU.

Re:Duh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45546601)

There is a difference between a crewman rocking the boat and the captain boating a rock.

Honesty is never treasured in corporate world (5, Insightful)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | about 5 months ago | (#45545021)

Unfortunately, the corporate world has become very much like the political arena.

Honesty is no longer treasured.

No matter if it's Helen Hill or Edward Snowden, as long as you blew the whistle on wrongdoings of others, you will get punished.

The world we live in is becoming more and more fake.

Lies worth much more than truth.

Fakeries work much better than honesty.

Re:Honesty is never treasured in corporate world (5, Insightful)

BringsApples (3418089) | about 5 months ago | (#45545073)

Liars only ever trust other liars. To a liar, people that only tell the truth are a burden, and they feel that those people need to stay the fuck out of other people's business.

Likewise, people that tell the truth only ever like people that tell the truth. They feel that the others are fucking up the world for their own temporary benefit.

This is probably a fundamental reason behind 'to what degree' whistle-blowers suffer in the world.

Re:Honesty is never treasured in corporate world (5, Insightful)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about 5 months ago | (#45545503)

I see you're already up to +5 (for good reason).

What many would see as the surprising, or questionable, notion, is that liars only trust other liars. What it is though is only trusting people who play by the same set of rules as you, and it's irrelevant that the rules are crooked. Only trust your own kind. Another liar may be your enemy, but at least you understand him. Liars always try to act in their own self-interest, but those honest people are unpredictable, and their motives difficult to understand. How can you trust someone you can't understand, and hence whose behavior is totally unpredictable? It's like being with someone who most of the time is perfectly reasonable, but at unpredictable moments flies into wild irrational rages, screaming about demons seen only by them, like "ethics" and "truthfulness".

Re:Honesty is never treasured in corporate world (4, Funny)

Kwyj1b0 (2757125) | about 5 months ago | (#45545637)

It's like being with someone who most of the time is perfectly reasonable, but at unpredictable moments flies into wild irrational rages, screaming about demons seen only by them...

Ahh.. I see you've met my ex

Re:Honesty is never treasured in corporate world (1)

BringsApples (3418089) | about 5 months ago | (#45545763)

Honestly, it's possible that it's as simple as the way each (liar or truth-teller) defines the word 'trust', and the context in which that word arises for them.

Re:Honesty is never treasured in corporate world (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45546571)

Or to put it another way:

Everyone's got their secrets. Why trust someone who claims to have none?

Re:Honesty is never treasured in corporate world (5, Interesting)

Ateocinico (32734) | about 5 months ago | (#45546707)

Whole cultures are based on that. The Spanish speaking world, my own, goes by this rule: one thing is what is said and faked and other what is thought and done. And what they hate the most from immigrants and visitors from other cultures is that they take what is said in its strict meaning. Believe it or not.

Re:Honesty is never treasured in corporate world (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45545855)

Hear, hear! Well said...

Re:Honesty is never treasured in corporate world (1)

Culture20 (968837) | about 5 months ago | (#45546103)

This is why when I hire someone, I bring in the candidates two at a time, and make one of them wear a red sash (doesn't matter who). We've all heard the puzzle, so you can figure out the rest.

Re:Honesty is never treasured in corporate world (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45546625)

People project their own values and behavior to explain others behavior, so that if you are a liar, then you expect others to lie in similar circumstances as when you would lie. When you see different behavior you label it as 'difficult' and 'untrustworthy' even if it is the truth. This also allows you to retain a position of superiority, in your head.

Re:Honesty is never treasured in corporate world (1)

thsths (31372) | about 5 months ago | (#45547381)

If you put it like this, it sounds like the liars have already won. Have they?

Re:Honesty is never treasured in corporate world (5, Insightful)

Lucky_Pierre (175635) | about 5 months ago | (#45545083)

Corporate world? Hardly. The story is about the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey.......that's in the "academic world" .......that beacon of intellectual honesty and moral superiority we're all supposed to bow down to.

Re:Honesty is never treasured in corporate world (4, Interesting)

ISoldat53 (977164) | about 5 months ago | (#45545117)

It happens in the government too. I lost a career doing it.

Re:Honesty is never treasured in corporate world (4, Funny)

noh8rz10 (2716597) | about 5 months ago | (#45545785)

Edward snowden, is that you?

Re:Honesty is never treasured in corporate world (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45546025)

No, he is probably the DC mayor who questioned Obamacare. Lying about it and rolling out a failure of a web site is ok, questioning it is unacceptable.
story [nbcnews.com]

Or maybe he used to work for the ATF and told the media about fast and furious.
story [townhall.com]

I could tell you about the NSA whistleblower, but I'm sure you know about him already.

The interesting thing is all these events no one was fired for wrongdoing, just for pointing it out. Whitehouse whistleblower protections indeed.

Re:Honesty is never treasured in corporate world (1)

jythie (914043) | about 5 months ago | (#45545569)

Given how much they depend on grants from private industry and how often those jobs are just stepping stones to corporate labs, such places only barely count as the "academic world".

Cuz Dat Cowboy be a Whore (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45545669)

That cowboy is pandering like a whore panders; that cowboy sucks dick too.

Re:Honesty is never treasured in corporate world (1)

wisnoskij (1206448) | about 5 months ago | (#45545887)

Medicine and dentistry make far too much money to not be considered corporate.

Re:Honesty is never treasured in corporate world (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45545187)

My experience in business backs this up. We regularly lied, oversold ourselves, back tracked, broke promises and commitments, weaseled our way out of whatever we could. It was company mandate. It was sad. I feel sorry for all those people trusting us.
I quite. I never looked back. I hope someday to find something that isn't the same.

Re:Honesty is never treasured in corporate world (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45545371)

Yes, yes, we've all heard this before, and if you live long enough you'll be saying that today was the best of times and the future really sucks. There are editorials going back more than a century saying the exact same things you are saying. It's all going to hell, blah blah blah.

But, it's rarely true. You took one person's sad story and made it about the rest of us, somehow.

Re:Honesty is never treasured in corporate world (4, Insightful)

0123456 (636235) | about 5 months ago | (#45545689)

There are editorials going back more than a century saying the exact same things you are saying. It's all going to hell, blah blah blah.

And they were right. A century ago we were heading into WWI, WWII and the Cold War under perpetual threat of nuclear destruction, where we avoided destroying life on Earth as much by luck as intelligence.

Re:Honesty is never treasured in corporate world (2)

oldhack (1037484) | about 5 months ago | (#45545471)

Nah, you are just getting bit older, more bitter, and perhaps bit wiser. It has always been thus more or less, in the corporate world, academia, or anywhere else.

20-30 years in the "grown-up" society, more honest/perceptive among us geezers come to recognize our own dirty hands in the messy state of things.

Wiser still would be to try to make things a tiny bit better for the young'uns...

Re:Honesty is never treasured in corporate world (5, Insightful)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | about 5 months ago | (#45545587)

Unfortunately, the corporate world has become very much like the political arena.

Honesty is no longer treasured.

"Has become"? "No longer"? Look, whistleblowers have always been treated badly. Governmental, corporate, academic--no matter what kind of organization you're in, the organization will react badly to anything it sees as a threat. And the problem gets worse the larger the organizations are. In small groups, human beings act like human beings, but in large groups, they act more like the cells of some vast organism. Imagine how you'd react if some of your muscle cells suddenly started refusing to contract when you told them to, even if by that refusal they were preventing you from doing something you really shouldn't do.

Re:Honesty is never treasured in corporate world (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45545721)

Imagine how you'd react if some of your muscle cells suddenly started refusing to contract when you told them to, even if by that refusal they were preventing you from doing something you really shouldn't do.

I see you've figured out what some people call the sixth sense. Thanks for putting that into words ;)

Re:Honesty is never treasured in corporate world (2)

bloodhawk (813939) | about 5 months ago | (#45545659)

This was a case of the academic world and also the 14 years and costs were also self imposed on her by her relentless bid to expose the lies. While I applaud her efforts the tone of the summary here is somewhat misleading as it sounded like she was unfairly punished for revealing the truth.

Re:Honesty is never treasured in corporate world (3, Interesting)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 5 months ago | (#45545819)

This was a case of the academic world and also the 14 years and costs were also self imposed on her by her relentless bid to expose the lies. While I applaud her efforts the tone of the summary here is somewhat misleading as it sounded like she was unfairly punished for revealing the truth.

You are assuming that her claims that her colleague falsified data were valid. She made her accusations and presented her data to numerous people, including people outside her institution. NONE of them agreed with her analysis. It is likely that she was simply wrong. TFA is only telling her side of the story.

Re:Honesty is never treasured in corporate world (1)

bloodhawk (813939) | about 5 months ago | (#45545939)

No I don't assume that. I assume that she actually "believes" it was falsified and is following her moral compass. She may well be wrong, however I didn't read anything that said people didn't agree with her, only that she lacked sufficient proof. If she is wrong and has been shown to be wrong then she should be moved from the category of a moral crusader to a nutbag, but without being familiar enough with the details I can only trust she is at least trying to do the right thing and there was nothing in the article itself that pointed to her doing otherwise.

Re:Honesty is never treasured in corporate world (1)

hairyfish (1653411) | about 5 months ago | (#45546053)

How is any of this new? These days you merely get scorned in public, back in the day you simply disappeared never to be seen again. I'd say things are improving.

It is still happening ! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45547347)

How is any of this new? These days you merely get scorned in public, back in the day you simply disappeared never to be seen again

Well, guess what ?

The "disappeared never to be seen again" phenomena are still happening, even inside the United States of America !

Just because you do not read it in the newspaper does not mean it never happens.

Re:Honesty is never treasured in corporate world (1)

Desler (1608317) | about 5 months ago | (#45546395)

When exactly was this mythical time when the truth or honesty ever treasured in either the corporate or political world? It certainly isn't any time in the last 150 years.

Re:Honesty is never treasured in corporate world (1)

CodeBuster (516420) | about 5 months ago | (#45547015)

Unfortunately, the corporate world has become very much like the political arena.

They've always gone hand and glove.

Honesty is no longer treasured.

Was it ever?

No matter if it's Helen Hill or Edward Snowden, as long as you blew the whistle on wrongdoings of others, you will get punished.

So don't blow it. Instead, gather and document all of the evidence and keep it secret. That way, when you need to play your get out of jail free card, you can throw that chip on the table. This works best in a mutually assured destruction type scenario where they wont act against you with what they know for fear that you will blow the whistle on them. Actually blowing the whistle is like launching the missiles, neither side really wants to do it.

The world we live in is becoming more and more fake.

I think that it has always been fake but that we notice it more now because it has become much more difficult for ordinary people to successfully keep secrets, especially in the long run.

Lies worth much more than truth.

He who pays the piper calls the tune.

Fakeries work much better than honesty.

Not sure what a "fakerie" is but it certainly pays to be sparing with the truth these days. President Obama is a master of this tactic but as the recent healthcare debacle demonstrates, even the best liars can only tell a whopper so large before the whole house of cards comes crashing down.

People don't care enough (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45545067)

Anupam Bishayee, her research Junior should never get a legitimate job in research and should be flipping bugers at hindi veggie burger where he belongs. But is he?

But I'll bet Bishayee is the winner and some multi-generational long-time American will be flipping the burgers after his old job is outsourced to India for Bishayee's cousin to fill....
Aside: I like the layout of that Nature articles - arty in an archaic kind of way.

Girl I'm gonna show you how to do it (-1, Offtopic)

killkillkill (884238) | about 5 months ago | (#45545095)

And we start real slow
You just put your lips together
And you come real close
Can you blow my whistle baby, whistle baby
Here we go

Hmm.... (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45545109)

From the slashdot entry at the top: "Blowing the whistle on what she thinks was research misconduct cost her 14 years..."

From the linked article: "Hill would spend the next 14 years trying to expose what she believes to be a case of scientific misconduct. "

Reading the slashdot entry, I thought that she went to jail for 14 years, which she didn't. :)

Misleading Summary (5, Informative)

LordLucless (582312) | about 5 months ago | (#45545135)

Blowing the whistle on what she thinks was research misconduct cost her 14 years and $200,000.

What actually happened, from the article: she thinks a colleague forged results, and spent 14 years and $200,000 voluntarily pursuing court action, which repeatedly found there was no wrong-doing. She was not fired, was not fined, was not imprisoned.

The summary's deliberately phrased to be inflammatory, and imply that she was persecuted for whistle-blowing.

Re:Misleading Summary (4, Funny)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about 5 months ago | (#45545167)

Welcome to FoxDot. Flamebait for nerds, news that are fabricated.

Re:Misleading Summary (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45545339)

I wonder how much she had to pay slashdot or dice.com to get this story posted....

Re:Misleading Summary (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45545215)

Quite frankly, that's not whistleblowing, that's an obsession. She even almost admits it. There is a desire for truth, but when you've gathered all the information and the world still doesn't want to hear it, let it go. If you've blown the whistle and everybody tells you to keep the noise down, it's not your fault. At that point, just make sure anybody who looks for the paper also finds the damning analysis, then move on.

Re:Misleading Summary (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about 5 months ago | (#45545401)

And the $200,000 was her voluntarily prosecuting a lawsuit based on a law that allows any citizen to sue to recover government money lost due to fraud, in this case an additional grant based on the data.

Also, boo on those yabbering about corporations -- the two cases listed were both universities. You philosophical underpants are showing.

The third case was a semi-nut anon reporting about 80% of anon claims of fraud to major journals. They're sometimes right, so they can't be blanket ignored, but the frequent dead ends waste investigation resources.

flamebait for wankers (1)

epine (68316) | about 5 months ago | (#45545915)

The summary's deliberately phrased to be inflammatory, and imply that she was persecuted for whistle-blowing.

A Google search for "Slashdot" still comes up Slashdot: News for nerds, stuff that matters, but a single story summary this shitty sure puts paid to that aspiration.

For stories like this one, if my account wasn't a pseudonym I'd have to wear a bag over my face just to post here.

Re:Misleading Summary (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45546203)

Blowing the whistle on what she thinks was research misconduct cost her 14 years and $200,000.

What actually happened, from the article: she thinks a colleague forged results, and spent 14 years and $200,000 voluntarily pursuing court action, which repeatedly found there was no wrong-doing. She was not fired, was not fined, was not imprisoned.

The summary's deliberately phrased to be inflammatory, and imply that she was persecuted for whistle-blowing.

If you keep reading you will discover that she performed an analysis of data revealed during the lawsuit, and this analysis indicated that the data did not have the statistical properties that it would have if it were collected in an experiment.

Despite the judge's decision, and everyone elses dismissal of her whistleblowing, the science says something fishy was going on.

Re:Misleading Summary (1)

91degrees (207121) | about 5 months ago | (#45547181)

Thing is, while she's probabl right, when you accuse someone of wrongdoing, you need a much higher degree of proof.

Sure, she's probably right, but there will be some chance results that will have the same statistical properties and she can't prove that this wan't one of those flukes. Sometimes the guilty get away with it.

Almost (1)

dutchwhizzman (817898) | about 5 months ago | (#45547441)

The procedures she has been in have not found evidence of wrong-doing. That is something different than that it found evidence there was no wrong-doing. It's a lack of substantial evidence proving her right, no evidence proving her wrong has been found. This academical difference is crucial here, since legally she's wrong, but scientifically she can still be right.

I'd like to see the research she is disputing repeated by independent researchers. If a few repeat experiments are done, we'll get a good idea of who is actually right in this case without court action. In this case the law sees no evidence of wrong-doing, but science might at least prove the experiment was conducted wrong. Proving intent in publishing false results may still be hard, but at least the results will be nullified.

explained (5, Informative)

phantomfive (622387) | about 5 months ago | (#45545147)

Blowing the whistle on what she thinks was research misconduct cost her 14 years and $200,000.

This sounds juicy, and if you read the actual article, it is.

If anyone is wondering why it cost her $200,000 (and doesn't want to read the article, though I couldn't imagine why), it's because after the university committee on ethics determined that there was no evidence of misconduct, she decided to file a lawsuit, which she also lost.

Even after losing the lawsuit, she is still trying to get her coworker disciplined, which is why the dean warned her that she could lose her job as a result. But she is continuing. Choice quote from the article, in explanation of why she continues the fight:

“I want to finish,” she says. “It becomes almost an obsession.”

Re:explained (2)

JoeMerchant (803320) | about 5 months ago | (#45545255)

I know a guy who was "done wrong" by an academic institution, and he took it to court and won, judgement was that his situation was not handled properly by the Uni... and it made absolutely zero difference in the future of his life, except that he had a judge on his side agreeing with him.

Re:explained (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45545693)

Yeah, from the article, it seems like the university behaved very well and patiently with her claim.

from what i seen how whistleblowers are treated (5, Insightful)

FudRucker (866063) | about 5 months ago | (#45545181)

i would most definitely blow the whistle anonymously, maybe post on some forums and upload videos from a public library or public wifi hotspot while using fake names for signing on anywhere

Re:from what i seen how whistleblowers are treated (1)

roc97007 (608802) | about 5 months ago | (#45545531)

Also, keep multiple copies of your data in obscure, geographically diverse locations, and *not* in your house, in case your identity *is* discovered.

Yes, boat rockers are statistically likely... (3, Interesting)

rmdingler (1955220) | about 5 months ago | (#45545189)

to wind up swimming. The vast majority of folks are willing to pipe down in the face of consequences and repercussions. Call the other option what you will: foolhardy, insubordinate, obstinate, or brave... all that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.

Mad Scientist (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45545249)

It wasn't blowing the whistle that cost her 14 years and $200k, it was her improper handling of the situation and zealotry in pursuing the matter.

Let's say this was a murder. If I saw you with a dead body, a shovel, lime, rope and bloody knife. After you left, I grabbed the bloody knife and took a picture of it and gave it to the police. The picture of the knife would not be admissible as evidence, the knife itself would, but not a picture of it. Hill was playing private eye, but doing it in a way that she couldn't gather enough evidence to support her case. The article is totally slanted towards her side and makes it sound like the University committee, federal investigators, and New Jersey District Court were all incompetent.

Re:Mad Scientist (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45545337)

The article is totally slanted towards her side and makes it sound like the University committee, federal investigators, and New Jersey District Court were all incompetent.

And you assert that they are not in fact incompetent? Citation needed!

There's plenty of scientific misconduct out there (5, Interesting)

umafuckit (2980809) | about 5 months ago | (#45545295)

I work in research and I've seen or heard of plenty of misconduct. They don't always get fired. Off the top of my head:

1. Research assistant at a friend's lab was fabricating data in order to shirk off. They discovered it because the variance of the fabricated data was weird. He admitted it when challenged and was fired.
2. PhD student I know fabricated data in order to do less work. He did a bad job of it, though, and was easily caught. He admitted it but further action wasn't taken because the lab wanted to avoid a scandal and the results weren't published. Eventually he produced a shitty thesis and was told to re-submit. He failed to do this but is writing on his CV that he has the degree.
3. Post-doc currently on my floor claimed to have produced a set of data but we all know it's a lie because: a. he didn't us the equipment at any point. b. he doesn't know how to use the equipment. c. he can't show the raw data. Was challenged by his boss and denied it. That was last year, he's still here, he's done no work, he's an arrogant prick, everyone hates him and nobody talks to him any more.
4. Post-doc in a friend's lab manipulated raw data out of all recognition. He was caught because the raw data looked nothing like his claims. He was challenged and fired.

I'm sure this sort of thing happens all the time.

Re:There's plenty of scientific misconduct out the (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about 5 months ago | (#45545425)

I'm sure this sort of thing happens all the time.

Anomalies happen all the time, too.

Re:There's plenty of scientific misconduct out the (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45545473)

Statistically, you could treat this as an underlying error rate in published data and try to account for it in metastudies.

Ya but this doesn't look like a case of it (5, Insightful)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | about 5 months ago | (#45545517)

So she said "This data is faked!" the university looked in to it, they have committees for that kind of thing as I'm sure you know, and said that no, they could find no evidence of wrongdoing. So she got the federal Office of Research Integrity involved, they looked in to it, and said "Nope we see no evidence of wrongdoing here." So she took it to court, and lost the case, appealed it, and lost that case.

This would seem to be a case where she's wrong. She thought she saw misconduct, but she was incorrect, but she's pushing this anyhow.

Remember that just because scientific misconduct happens does not mean all accusations of misconduct are true.

Re:Ya but this doesn't look like a case of it (1)

umafuckit (2980809) | about 5 months ago | (#45545667)

So she said "This data is faked!" the university looked in to it, they have committees for that kind of thing as I'm sure you know,

Yes, I realise what happened in the case of TFA. I'm just mentioning my experience. In those cases no committees were involved because the issue was uncovered before publication. That usually makes it the job the PI to decide what to do with the miscreant.

Re:Ya but this doesn't look like a case of it (1)

Nerdfest (867930) | about 5 months ago | (#45545707)

... or she's right, but has no proof. In the end it looks like the same thing to everyone but her and the defendant.

Re:Ya but this doesn't look like a case of it (2)

wisnoskij (1206448) | about 5 months ago | (#45545913)

There simply does not seem to be enough proof.

Either she is very crazy or she did see the misconduct and just cannot admit that she can never prove it.

Re:Ya but this doesn't look like a case of it (2)

umafuckit (2980809) | about 5 months ago | (#45546641)

There simply does not seem to be enough proof.

Either she is very crazy or she did see the misconduct and just cannot admit that she can never prove it.

The other option is to simply repeat the questionable experiment. If the same result is obtained, then at least the literature is correct even if the original study was tainted. If a different result is obtained then follow it up and demonstrate conclusively that the original study was wrong. At least now the incorrect result will be shown for what it is. Duplicating the science seems like a better way of spending your time than pursuing a legal challenge whose outcome depends on hearsay.

Re:Ya but this doesn't look like a case of it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45546475)

So she said "This data is faked!" the university looked in to it, they have committees for that kind of thing as I'm sure you know, and said that no, they could find no evidence of wrongdoing. So she got the federal Office of Research Integrity involved, they looked in to it, and said "Nope we see no evidence of wrongdoing here." So she took it to court, and lost the case, appealed it, and lost that case.

This would seem to be a case where she's wrong. She thought she saw misconduct, but she was incorrect, but she's pushing this anyhow.

Remember that just because scientific misconduct happens does not mean all accusations of misconduct are true.

Or she was right and had insufficient evidence to prove it. Which in a system with presumed innocence has the same outcome.

When it comes down to it, if you are going to be a whistleblower you HAVE to be able to successfully argue your case. No one's going to help you do it.

Re:There's plenty of scientific misconduct out the (1)

rizole (666389) | about 5 months ago | (#45547445)

The trick to misconduct is hard work and principles.

Just as I have high standards, integrity and rigor in my professional life I'm also very principled and practice diligence when those standards slip and I have to/want to cut corners.
If you're lazy and stupid in your work, chances are you'll be lazy and stupid in your misconduct too.

Take a deep breath (3, Funny)

slinches (1540051) | about 5 months ago | (#45545315)

What's the best way to blow the whistle?

Take a deep breath, put your lips around the whistle's mouthpiece and exhale forcefully?

Oh, you meant figuratively? I'd say, that the best way is to avoid working with people who are unethical so whistle blowing isn't necessary. If you do happen to end up in a situation that you know something untoward is going on, report it. But only report it to someone you trust will behave responsibly and has the authority to resolve the issue. If that person doesn't exist, start polishing up your resume and look around for a better place to work.

Re:Take a deep breath (1)

roc97007 (608802) | about 5 months ago | (#45545547)

I like this answer. At some point you have to just walk away.

Re:Take a deep breath (4, Insightful)

Kardos (1348077) | about 5 months ago | (#45545703)

Yeah sure. How many tenured profs who notice misconduct are going to walk away from their post?

Re:Take a deep breath (1)

slinches (1540051) | about 5 months ago | (#45545787)

If they notice serious misconduct and have no recourse to safely report it, is it really wise to stay? Sure they may have to give up tenure, but if the entire organization is corrupt and dishonest something is going to happen and there's a good chance that they will be considered a party to it. Which is really more important, tenure or maintaining integrity and a good reputation?

Re:Take a deep breath (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45546901)

Tenure? They might have kids, they might have big loans. After they die in a ditch somewhere nobody will remember they had great integrity and great reputation. You can't afford to keep high morals if you aren financially independant. If you have mouths to feed it gets worse. Fuck morals, they are your kids, it's morally right to keep them fed, even if it meant unmoral behavior somwhere else. This is why the system should be built in a way that makes it possible to have high moral, but when the first one to get shot is the messenger, there won't be any more messengers. They are not stupid. Well.. some are, they get to have an interesting life in russia or some south american countrys embassy. Or the forementioned ditch.

Re:Take a deep breath (1)

thsths (31372) | about 5 months ago | (#45547415)

Tenure pays the bills, integrity doesn't. At least in the current climate, but I would guess this has always been the case.

Re:Take a deep breath (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45546889)

Tenured professors fall into two categories. Either they are in charge of everyone in their lab/research project, or they work with at least one other researcher who they are not in charge of (e.g. another tenured professor).

If you're in the first category, you are responsible for handling any misconduct in your own lab, since you're the Big Boss. The correct action is not to leave, but to prevent the misconduct (i.e. announce your finding of misconduct, fire the guilty parties, retract any papers with fraudulent data, etc.). If you won't do that, it's all on you.

If you're in the second category and you don't have the power to deal with the misconduct (e.g. because it's the other professor doing it), then yes, you need to blow the whistle and/or leave. Universities do hire already-tenured faculty in small numbers; maybe it's time for you to be one among that number. No, you probably won't end up at a university that's as prestigious as your current one, but get real -- what good is that prestige if the university is rotten on the inside?

Re:Take a deep breath (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45547167)

Yeah, if you get accused of misconduct by a tenured prof. you're likely screwed. Unless you yourself are a tenured prof. (And why would she be looking into the cell cultures of a tenured colleague?)

Re:Take a deep breath (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45547273)

Ask Flo Rida, he knows all about Whistle Blowin'
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rsycEBd5IoY

Catching misconduct (1)

Kwyj1b0 (2757125) | about 5 months ago | (#45545433)

Apart from the inflammatory article, I believe there is a valid question to be asked here: how does one identify and catch/correct errors?

In experimental fields, if a result is interesting enough, there will be people who will verify it by trying to repeat or improve the results. However, in more theoretical fields (where computer simulations are the norm), I wonder how well vetted the results are. Especially since many people don't release the source code, and even if they do, it is too large to actually go through and verify each line.

I know of some models (in the aerospace industry) that have been widely used that are flawed in many ways - from sign changes, to impossible geometric configurations. I'm sure that in many other simulation-centric fields, the same problems exist. Often, the results and simulations are just part of some larger methodological contributions - the methodology is still solid, but the presented results are flawed.

Re:Catching misconduct (1)

Kardos (1348077) | about 5 months ago | (#45545671)

Verifying each line is not really a goal worth pursuing. A robust (real) simulation result will be reproducible across various numerical methods. Computers are commonplace, anybody with a computer (or a cluster) can redo your numerical experiment provided that you described what you did. Lab work is much more specialised, there aren't millions of similarly equipped labs kicking around, so the pool of people who can check your result is much smaller. In my opinion, this makes it less likely for one to report fabricated or garbage results because one can be called out pretty easily.

Faking stuff may have been a habit (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45545467)

Take a look at the Prof Sanna's ratings as a teacher [ratemyprofessors.com] : sounds like a real asset to the faculty, right?

Now notice when most of the flattering reviews were posted.

Now look at when Sanna resigned. [nature.com]

Where's www.hail2metadata.org ? (1)

Mister Liberty (769145) | about 5 months ago | (#45545539)

Whistleblowers, we need to take care of them, like I said the other day. It's going to be tough. Maybe at least give some
thoughts to Snowden these days, but think hard about how we could give one of our own safe harbor. It's a tough problem
because us geeks live mostly in a virtual word, and this here is a very physcial problem. Though maybe the solution is
somewhere on the tangent where the physical meets the virtual. Snowden's doomsday docs may be a starter idea.

Now the thugs: toss some of their own stuff back at them! Here's a GREAT idea, and I jand it to you for free:

When o when, is finally a website being opened in the USA that gathers and published 'Metadata' on your fine politicians.

I'm talking 'Alexander (Feinstein, Biden, you name em) spotted today, where, time, what was he doing, who was he with,
what circumstances could anything be overheard, what food did his wife buy, who's his dentist. You get the puicture, nothing
excluded, but the thing is: nothing nefarious, just eyeballs and registering goings on. Let's see how soon that gets them to
puking sick.

best way to blow the whistle (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45545553)

lots of eye contact, fondle the balls and taint, and stick your finger up my asshole.

making sound (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45545825)

i thought this post was about the device that makes sound when you blow into it. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whistle

i'm so old fashioned. lol

the best way... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45545861)

pull it out, play with till hard, suck-n-stroke till done. any teeth and ya gets knocked the fuck out.

You're all amateurs (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45545969)

This is how you blow the whistle:

1. Write a journel article, news item, or book which exposes the misconduct.

2. Have your lawyer send it to the accused along with a letter, which says, "We are going to publish this in 72 hours, but we wanted to have you review it first to verify that there are no errors in fact and that everything is absolutely true. If you find any errors, please have your lawyer contact me."

3. Your lawyer negotiates a confidential agreement in which you agree not to publish, and the accused agrees to send you a large cash payment

If you want to extort someone legally, you need to use the legal process.

the best way to blow a whistle is (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45546575)

with your mouth!!

Is there another way? I wouldn't use any other bodily orifice.

The moral of the story... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45546609)

Don't whistleblow...Blackmail!

Probably safer and more effective.

Worst way to blow the whistle (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45546713)

Don't add to the story that you went in and singlehandedly killed a terrorist with your rifle-butt. That could get your NOC cover blown, cause people to dismiss everyone else who had the same complaints as you, and cost any journalists who trusted you their jobs.

Plan Your Action (2)

Jim Sadler (3430529) | about 5 months ago | (#45546957)

Before you blow the whistle you need to contact a quality lawyer and be advised. You may need to file a report with an outside agency in order to get whistle blower protection in the courts. If you work with any kind of in house security or internal affairs you may gain extra protection if you are a paid informant. That pay could be one penny or one dollar. Also the timing of blowing the whistle could be vital. For example getting a review and a raise and blowing the whistle just afterward make sit harder to claim your work is defective. But back to the original point first get a lawyer. The reality is that you will probably be fired. Regardless of what the law says you probably can never return to work. But if done correctly you may earn a lot more money by blowing the whistle than you could ever hope to earn from work. So many companies are involved in illegal activities that whistle blowing could be an entire career for the right person.

Spyblog's Guide on Whistleblowing Anonymously (1)

UpnAtom (551727) | about 5 months ago | (#45547277)

In a prelude to the more recent gross attacks on democracy, the US and UK have both been consistently shitting [huffingtonpost.co.uk] on [pbs.org] whistleblowers [newstatesman.com] for many decades.

Snowden's [net-security.org] method [theweek.com] will probably only work if your leak will make you famous. For everyone else, anonymity would be advised.

The author of Spyblog [spyblog.org.uk] has been documenting the progress of the UK's seemingly-inexorable descent into a Stasi police state for about 10 years.

In 2006, he started posting tips on whistleblowing. This has since evolved into a more comprehensive website.

http://ht4w.co.uk/ [ht4w.co.uk]

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