If you’re really interested in reading some technical bafflegab, LaCour has posted a 23 page response to accusations that he faked his data. I think I’d recommend instead reading this shorter summary.
In the 23-page document, political science graduate student Michael LaCour of the University of California (UC), Los Angeles, attacks the methods and motives of researchers who raised questions about his research, but confirms that he lied about some funding sources and the incentives used to attract participants. And he admits that he destroyed the data used to produce the study, claiming that action was required by a UC Los Angeles institutional review board (IRB) in order to protect the privacy of participants.
LaCour’s response does not, however, directly answer a number of other questions surrounding the study—and it raises new issues. LaCour does not address, for example, why the company that he claimed had conducted his surveys says it has no knowledge of the researcher or his project and does not have the capability to conduct some of the claimed work. (After the statement’s release, LaCour told The New York Times that he did not use that company, but another unidentified company.)
If he lied about basic features of his protocol, why should we believe the rest of it? I also have to point out that claiming he had to destroy the data because his Institutional Review Board protocol required it is nonsense, given that he did not have IRB approval to do the study at all. Destroying data because he claims to be a stickler for the rules while being so lax he didn’t even get IRB approval is incoherent.
Ironically, he also complains that his critics did not come directly to him first, instead informing his co-author and advisor, Green. It strikes me as strangely similar to the complaints about those people who write blog entries about public figures and actions without first calling them up. If you screwed up so blatantly, if your actions reveal you are an untrustworthy source, it is entirely appropriate to pursue the truth without first asking a liar for permission.