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Social studies of science conflicts: dealing with scientific fraud in Japan

Author: Pablo Ariel Pellegrini (

Affiliation: CONICET, Universidad Nacional de Quilmes, Instituto de Estudios sobre la Ciencia y la Tecnología, Buenos Aires, Argentina​

Editor: Miura Motoi, Akihiko Ozaki

There are many cases of research misconduct, including scientific fraud, in the biomedical sciences. But there are also fraud cases in physics, mathematics, informatics, engineering and social sciences. It doesn’t seem to be a problem of a specific kind of science; all disciplines have registered fraud cases. It is a generalized issue, and an issue that is not so much spoken about. Is a subject that usually turns awkward.

The reason is that in any social sphere, impostors usually develop a generalized social upset that turns into a loss of confidence towards the whole field where the impostor has worked. It is awkward not so much because of the manipulation of the facts that imply the fraud, but because of the realization that the imposture, for a long time, went unnoticed. This can result in a general distrust: why should we believe in the rest of the people working in that field, if maybe they are also impostors that haven’t been uncovered yet?

This stance of distrust is usually exploited by denialists, that is, by those that deny a widely-corroborated fact. Cases of fraud in archaeology, for instance, are used by those who defend creationism, under the argument that those frauds can be extensive to the whole discipline of archaeology. By distrusting archaeology, they try to discredit all evidence in favor of evolution.<