They seem to be appallingly slow to respond to accusations of scientific fraud. Last February I wrote about the scandal involving Jonathan Pruitt, a prolific scientist studying spider social behavior, whose collaborators (and there were many) who discovered that the data he contributed to their papers was in some substantial part fabricated. This is a big deal. I’ve been seeing papers cited in the popular press that are tainted by his work. There was a wave of retractions, and the guy hired lawyers to block them, which is just weird, since going to court would have provided more exposure to the evidence — I guess he was just hoping publishers would be too lazy or disinterested in validating the integrity of the research they publish.
Well, now another major strike has been made against Jonathan Pruitt: his Ph.D. has been retracted.
Jonathan Pruitt, a behavioral ecologist and Canada 150 Research Chair who has had a dozen papers retracted following allegations of data fraud, now appears to have had his doctoral dissertation withdrawn.
The news, which was first noted by Nick DiRienzo, who co-authored papers with Pruitt but has been one of the scientists trying to cleanse the scientific record of Pruitt’s problematic work, suggests that Priutt now lacks a PhD, generally considered a requirement for professorships.
Ouch. that implies that his untrustworthy behavior goes all the way back to the earliest days of his career. It also implies that he is unqualified to hold his professorship at McMaster University.
Which he still does! He’s still listed as a faculty member in the Department of Psychology, Neuroscience, and Behavior, and he still has a lab web page which lists 9 post-docs and graduate students. Oh, man, I feel for those students — I hope they’ve since landed in better labs. This is the kind of association that can ruin careers.
But now I’m wondering why McMaster isn’t cleaning up this mess. Has Pruitt sicced lawyers on them? This is the kind of thing most universities would be quick to condemn, or at the very least, sweep under the rug. Yet there he still is, virtually at least (physically, he seems to be in Florida), even with a page advertising for new grad students to join his lab. Something is going on. I hope we find out someday. Until then, I’m just going to skip over any papers authored by Pruitt, J.