[Published in Currents in Science, Technology & Society, vol. 2, no. 2, Spring/Summer 1993, p. 12. This was published by the Access Research Network until vol. 3, no. 1, in 1994, at which time it was merged into Origins Research. The bracketed text below was inadvertently omitted in the published version of this letter.]

Stealing Into Print

Dear Editor:

The Winter 1993 issue of Currents lists Marcel C. LaFollette's book Stealing Into Print under "More Books Worth Reading." While I concur with this assessment, readers of the book should be warned about some errors in it. I wrote the following for the "Books of Note" column in the March/April 1993 issue of The Arizona Skeptic (P.O. Box 62792, Phoenix, AZ 85082-272): Marcel C. LaFollette, Stealing Into Print: Fraud, Plagiarism, and Misconduct in Scientific Publishing. 1992, Berkeley: University of California Press, 293 pages. Another new book on scientific fraud (see last [AS's review of Robert Bell's Impure Science); this one focuses on publication issues such as] plagiarism, questions of authorship, the review process, etc.)

One major flaw is that LaFollette fails to take her own advice on page 105: "Unresolved issues, like varying interpretations of data, should be described explicitly in print." She heavily criticizes the late Cyril Burt for fraud in his twin studies (on pp. 54, 57, 125-26 and 162, among other places) but fails to note recent re-evaluations of the case which put Burt in a much more favorable light and his critics in a worse light (e.g., Ronald Fletcher, Science, Ideology, and the Media: The Cyril Burt Scandal, 1991, New Brunswick: Transaction; Robert B. Johnson, The Burt Affair, 1989, London: Routledge). The charge that Burt invented research assistants, for example (which LaFollette repeats on p. 152 and in a footnote on p. 228), appears to be completely unfounded (see especially Fletcher's book).

LaFollette also brings up charges that Archaeopteryx fossils are forgeries without mentioning the nature of the charges (that feathers were stamped on the fossils, alleged by astronomer Fred Hoyle and mathematician Chandra Wickramasinghe in a photography journal).

While she does cite a rebuttal to Hoyle and Wickramasinghe's charges (A. Charig et al., "Archaeopteryx Is Not a Forgery," Science 232(May 2, 1986):622-626), she doesn't mention the most recently discovered specimen, which also has feather impressions (P. Wellnhofer, "A New Specimen of Archaeopteryx," Science 240(June 24, 1988):1790-1792).

Jim Lippard