The first whispers of fraud in the LaCour gay-marriage persuasion study were voiced on an underground rumor site for political scientists, almost six months before the academic scandal broke nationally.
The site —PoliSciRumors.com, or PSR — is one of a growing number of gossip communities that may provide leads for enterprising reporters. Visiting such a site might be compared to turning over a rock to see the bugs underneath. It’s not necessarily the ideal source for a story about scientific ethics, but valuable if mined correctly.
Mainstream journalists are beginning to carefully enter these subterranean communication spaces. In the process, a whole new kind of anonymous source is emerging.
Jesse Singal, a senior editor at New York Magazine and head of its Science of Us blog, began posting on PSR to gather information relating to the bombshell revelations of data fabrication by UCLA grad student Michael LaCour. Read more