From The Journal Of Dubious Studies

Andrew Sullivan —  Nov 11 2014 @ 3:56pm

Jordan Pearson discusses one novel way to spot faked research:

Previous research has shown that patterns of language can be good indicators of deceit in fields outside of science. A 2003 study that asked participants to write untruthful statements in several experiments on topics like abortion legislation found that liars tended to use less adjectives while also playing up the affective dimension of their argument by using positive superlatives. Other studies have found that liars have trouble approximating the proper amount of genre-specific terms to use in their writing, as was the case in a study analyzing fake hotel reviews, whose authors’ underuse of spatial dimensions flagged their reviews as fraudulent.

[Cornell PhD candidate David] Markowitz and [colleague Jeffrey] Hancock discovered that [disgraced Dutch professor of social psychology Diederik] Stapel’s fraudulent papers conformed to these findings in non-scientific contexts. “Stapel also wrote with more certainty when describing his fake data, using nearly one-third more certainty terms than he did in the genuine articles,” the authors wrote. “Words such as ‘profoundly,’ ‘extremely,’ and ‘considerably’ frame the findings as having a substantial and dramatic impact.”

Additionally, they discovered that Stapel overused scientific jargon (what the researchers deemed to be genre-specific), indicating that he had trouble estimating the right amount to use in order to make his accounts seem truthful. He also used far fewer adjectives in his fraudulent papers than in his truthful ones.