Braunwald, Eugene. "On Analyzing Scientific Fraud," Nature 325 (15 January 1987), pp.

 

Braunwald, Eugene. "On Analyzing Scientific Fraud," Nature 325 (15 January 1987), pp.
215-216.

This accompanies the Stewart-Feder article on Darsee's work and is a rejoinder to that article.
Braunwald's major point is straightforward: Stewart and Feder do not do a good job in pointing
out errors and inconsistencies in the papers co-authored by John Darsee. They pick up "trivial
errors" and label them evidences of dishonesty. Braunwald would have his colleagues at Harvard
(he, too, was a co-author) guilty of nothing more than a little carelessness. He would also have it
that Stewart and Feder have not given much thought to the major problem, that of fraud in
science.

Braunwald is here being a loyalist, defending Harvard and science. He is making the best case he
can. I note, however, that he does not use his old argument that Darsee was a master cheat who
could have fooled anybody. He does not mention other details of the Darsee case which might
well be mentioned. He would have us contextualize the case in terms of the ethics of science.

He does try to rebut some of the detailed inconsistencies which are included in the article, but it
is hard to evaluate the rebuttals. After all, Nature has been extremely selective in what it has
published and it could be that the refutation of the material it included has been relatively easy.
However, he raises enough of an issue, perhaps a smokescreen, to have some significant doubts
raised. One could accept his dismissal of Stewart and Feder and conclude that there is no
evidence here of the acceptance of dishonesty in science. However, the thrust of the Stewart and
Feder article is not about tiny inconsistencies, but is that science, Big Science, encourages a
deeper, very unwholesome dishonesty. Braunwald ignores that thrust. Why didn't Braunwald
catch Darsee out? Why did Braunwald first cover up or him? Why did all of the Harvard Medical
College go to bat for their erstwhile faculty appointee? None of these issues are mentioned.