The reality is that you don't actually need to know very much about science to detect scientific fraud. I would go so far as to argue that non-scientists will tend to be better at noticing scientific fraud than scientists, for what should be the obvious reason that scientists tend to possess a lower level of people skills than the average individual. This means that scientific con men tend to be rather clumsy and obvious compared to the non-scientific variety in in the act and the subsequent excuse-making, and it's only because their fellow scientists are also so clueless about people that they are able to get away with as much as they do.
Of course, if you expect your science BS detector to work, it helps a great deal to not have your sense of identity ensconced in romantic notions of the sanctity of science and the inherently pure intentions of scientists.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Always Keep In Mind: We Are, After All, Talking About "Chess-Club Poindexters"