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Betrayers of the truth Paperback – 1983

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Paperback, 1983
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Simon and Schuster (1983)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0671447696
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671447694
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.6 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,328,705 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

45 of 45 people found the following review helpful By L. Hoyt on June 19, 2000
Format: Paperback
Not a great book, but a very important one. I first read _Betrayers_ in graduate school, when I was still innocent and naive, believing that no scientist would ever compromise her reputation by any form of intellectual dishonesty. Further, I believed that anyone who did would inevitably be found out--that's how the scientific method works, right? Reading this book has made me much more skeptical of claims that seem to be revolutionary, a change in my attitude toward science that has proven valuable more than once. This is a book that should be required reading for graduate students (and possibly undergraduates) in science fields. Every scientist has been tempted to write things down the way they should be instead of the way they really are, to "fudge" data or present results in the best light. The pressure of a professor, granting agency or tenure committee breathing down your neck may make the temptation to produce results at any cost much worse. Knowing the stories presented in _Betrayers of the Truth_ has made it easier for me to be scrupulously honest in my records of my work and to avoid even the most innocent forms of scientific dishonesty.
I'd like to see a new edition of this, with coherent beginning-to-end coverage of some of the high-profile cases that have surfaced in the years since its original publication. Younger scientists may have a hard time piecing together a complete story from the fragments of coverage in the news and in trade magazines.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By William P. Palmer on December 20, 2010
Format: Paperback

Authors: William Broad and Nicholas Wade

Reviewer: William P. Palmer

Betrayers of the Truth is on the first reading a pleasant, light, easy to read book, with an interesting and true series of stories to tell. Its topic is that of scientists who used underhand means to try to achieve their ambitions of fame and fortune: some were successful in this aim and their fraud may not have been discovered until many years after their death: others were caught red-handed in their deceit. For some of the scientists one may feel at least a twinge of human sympathy: others seem to deserve all they got.

So, on the basis of the well-told histories of a large number of fraudulent scientists alone, I can certainly recommend this book. However there is a deeper level at which the book is also fascinating. It explores a niche between the sociology of science and the philosophy of science, which is seldom explored. By focusing on bad and dishonest science it casts light upon the nature of good and truthful science and helps us see the problems in what we call scientific method. The authors consider "the scientific method" to be a polite fiction, largely a product of a uniform style of reporting science insisted upon by refereed journals when reporting scientific results.

What types of fraud are there? The authors quote Babbage (the inventor of the calculating machine) as categorising scientific fraud as "trimming" (clipping bits off results above the average and adding them to results below the average), "cooking" or selective reporting (utilising only some of a large number of observations) or forging (extracting numbers from thin air).

How does science protect itself against fraud?
Read more ›
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Omer F. Baris on April 12, 2000
Format: Paperback
One of the best references showing controversies concerning the analysis and presentation of scientific data. From Pilttown man to Millikan case a wide variety of topics related to scientific fraud and deceit. The best introductory survey on the subject of scientific dishonesty.The main point is that we need more precise descriptions of the moral failings involved in cases of fabrication and falsification if we are to understand the causes of these defections and betrayals. The book is carefully researched and contains a wealth of material about fraud and deceit in science.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Mobilesunbeam on September 25, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a fascinating read showing how pervasive fraud is in modern day science. The book was written 3 decades ago but I suspect that the ground rules of science have not changed significantly since that time. The accounts of the various fraudsters are vivid and would be hard to believe had we not just seen this kind of behavior in our financial markets. Even icons like Newton and Galileo were caught cooking the books. A "must read" for every research scientist.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Dirk J. Willard on July 4, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A fascinating story of intellect seduced by the temptation of fame. The author recounts the studies of scientific historians bringing to light the deception of famous scientists:
- Ptolemy who took the credit from another Greek astronomer, Hipparchus;
- Galileo, father of empiricism, who's experiments defied replication;
- Newton who, from his lofty seat as president of the Royal Society, accused Leibniz of
plagiary while doctoring supporting measurements to make his own Principia more

From there the author describes more modern plagiarism and outright deceit within the scientific community.

This is a great read for those seeking a career in the sciences or in engineering.

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