Whistleblowing – are we even allowed to dare?

Repression photoPaul Brookes, an associate professor at the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York, dared to be a whistleblower.  According to an interview he gave in the Magazine Science, he was author of the now defunct blog science-fraud.org. Like oh so many, he tried to achieve that via the internet. After realising that a lot of the scientific literature that is published contains faults in the form of wrong data, wrong or missing sources, and more, he decided that it was high time to speak out against bad writing and publishing practice. In order to protect his university and himself, he wrote about the problems anonymously. But with the way the internet actually functions, it was not that hard to blow his cover. Somebody apparently tracked back his IP Adress, and since his blog was uncomfortable for more than a few fellow scientists, someone, yet again anonymous, send an email to his university and to other institutions, exposing him and threatening with a law suit. Brookes subsequently declared his authorship the next day and removed the blog from the internet. Fortunately, the university, although not being particularly happy about Brookes actions, led him hold on to his job and Brookes is still blogging about faulty papers. Now under his own name and strictly in his private time. Continue reading “Whistleblowing – are we even allowed to dare?”

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What to do when plagiarizing becomes good scholarly practice?

For the last couple of weeks, the German Minister of Defense, Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, was under pressure because it was found out that he had plagiarized parts of his PhD thesis. After first admitting that he had made mistakes, zu Guttenberg finally decided to resign from his post. One of his reasons was that he did not think that his personal situation should go on to dominate the press the way it did in the last couple of weeks. The plot however gets more interesting by the minute. Following an article on bbc news, the son of Muammar Gaddafi, the leader of Libya, has studied at LSE, London and is also supposed to have plagiarized his PhD thesis. In addition, LSE had received project and university funding from the Gaddafi International Charity and Development Foundation. Sir Howard Davies, the director of LSE, who even traveled to Libya, is under enormous pressure to not only return the money but to sever any ties with the country. Although the two cases are at a first glimpse quite dissimilar, other than the plagiarizing part, they do have a political dimension in common. Continue reading “What to do when plagiarizing becomes good scholarly practice?”

Advice for Philosophy Graduates

Alexander
Alexander the Great: Philosophy Student

Recent UK graduates will no doubt have been disheartened to read that there are currently 70 graduates to every job that’s out there.

Anna Miller recently wrote on these pages about the challenges facing philosophy graduates and suggested a number of ways in which they might ‘de-stress’.

As a philosophy graduate, I think Anna is guilty of perpetuating a number of pernicious stereotypes about philosophy students in her article, and I mean to set the record straight. Rant continues here…

In Defence of Lost Causes?

401px-University_of_Warwick_flag_2007Warwick University announces the creation of a new post in the Philosophy department: ‘Senior Fellow in the Public Understanding of Philosophy’. The role will be taken up by Angela Hobbs, and will involve her ‘bringing Philosophy to as wide an audience as possible both domestically and internationally’. As Mark Vernon notes, this parallels Richard Dawkins position with regard to Science at Oxford. Obviously any attempt to make Philosophy engage with the world/society in general, and to make the world/society engage with Philosophy, is a good thing. However, if the following comment on Vernon’s article by ‘smellthecoffee’ is anything to go by, Hobbs has her work cut out:

‘There are two types of philosophers
1. The bullshit peddlers: academics from universities who have no real experience of life outside their hallowed halls and dining rooms, but can quote a million words and call it debate.
2. Academics from the university of life: (except the above) from dishwashers to billionaires whose philosophy comes from personal experience.’

Good luck to her.

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