Prof. Marc Hauser is a leading figure in the attempts to understand cognition in evolutionary terms. He is particularly well know for his thesis that there in an inborn language of morality. He had done extensive research on tamarin monkeys.
We have had some concerns about some claims of evolutionary psychologists, but it would be hard to be happy about the following; it is like finding out someone has cancer of the mind (this was an injudicious remark; see comments):
Marc Hauser, one of the Harvard’s hyper-professors, has been found guilty of misconduct after a 3-year investigation.
Dr. Hauser is one of Harvard’s most visible academics, being frequently quoted in articles about language, animals’ cognitive abilities and the biological basis of morality. He is widely regarded as a star in his field.
In a widely noticed book of 2006, “Moral Minds,” he argued that a universal moral grammar is genetically wired into the human mind, similar to the universal grammar posited by Noam Chomsky to underlie the language faculty. Dr. Hauser is currently working on a book called “Evilicious: Why We Evolved a Taste for Being Bad.”
Dr. Hauser is a fluent and persuasive writer, and his undoing seems to have been his experiments, many of which depended on videotaping cotton-topped tamarin monkeys and noting their responses. It is easy for human observers to see the response they want and so to be fooled by the monkeys.
“The people who really know what’s happened are students, current and former,” said a scientist who asked to remain anonymous because of Dr. Hauser’s continuing power in the field. “They are very unhappy about how Harvard has handled this, and they feel things are being swept under the rug.”
The details are not forthcoming from Harvard, and in particular it isn’t clear where on the list of academic sins his rank. There is considerable concern that much work in various fields will come under question.
There’s a certain irony in his current project.