A Stapel blog would sound like self-justification

Last week Diederik Stapel told psychology professor Rolf Zwaan, he considered starting a blog. Bad idea, says Maarten Derksen. Stapel would always sound like he's justifying himself.

Stapel’s blog could be very interesting, because he has inside knowledge that he can freely write about, since he has nothing to lose. Whether it is wise for him to do so is another matter, because it will probably invite an enormous amount of vitriol.

The internet can be a very harsh place, and it’s not just us gentle academics that will read his blog.

Also, I don’t think he can stay away from discussing issues that might be construed as self-justification: what made his book most interesting to me were not the ‘technical’ issues – the questionable research practices he employed and observed around him, the way he fabricated data – but rather his reconstruction of what drove him down that road, the way he justified it to himself, his ever more baroque self-deception, the gradual moral perversion if you will.

Questionable research practices are not just tricks that researchers use to pump up their data, the way Abagnale used his con tricks, they’re things they have to justify to themselves or avoid thinking about, justify to others or avoid talking about. I think that moral fog is part of the culture that sustains questionable research practices, but discussing it will easily sound like self-justification.

Maarten Derksen is an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Groningen.
For the original blog by Rolf Zwaan and reactions on it click here. 

– 23 april 2013 –


Foto: Jack Tummers