Leidse hoogleraar Gill wil internationale discussie over zaak Kourtit/Nijkamp

De Leidse hoogleraar statistiek Richard Gill heeft vandaag op zijn website een Engelse vertaling gepubliceerd van de klacht van de anonieme klager in de slepende zaak rond de economen Karima Kourtit en Peter Nijkamp. In een verklaring op zijn site legt Gill uit waarom hij ruim een jaar geleden hielp om de Nederlandse versie van deze klacht in de openbaarheid te brengen.

“I agreed that it was in the public interest to disseminate this material also, since the whistleblower not only had wanted to publicise his analysis of various scientific publications, but also wanted to publicise the way his complaints had been handled at the Free University. I agreed that an academic discussion is badly needed about the right way to deal with problems like this, and the only way to have that discussion, is to be aware of what goes wrong in actual cases.”

Om de discussie ook internationaal te kunnen voeren startte Gill in maart van dit jaar een crowdfunding-actie om een Engelse vertaling te financieren.

Gill beklemtoont dat hij niet de mening van de klokkenluider wil uitdragen dat er datafraude heeft plaatsgevonden.

“i.e., the opinion that data has been manipulated (or even just made up) with the intention to deceive. In my experience, there can be many, many innocent explanations for such irregularities or anomalies, and of course the judgement that there is something wrong might even be based on misunderstandings. In other words, many apparent anomalies might not be anomalies at all. I think it is dangerous to base an accusation of fraud on one’s inability to come up with an innocent explanation for some weird anomalies. “Argument from ignorance” (argumentum ad ignorantiam), also known as appeal to ignorance (in which ignorance stands for “lack of evidence to the contrary”), is a well-known fallacy in informal logic, and also cause of quite a few famous miscarriages of justice!”

Gill maakt een onderscheid tussen de “integrity of scientific works” en de “integrity of scientific workers”.

“I have been involved in a number of “scientific integrity” investigations by now, and every time it has seemed to me that this distinction has been not taken care of properly. A disciplinary committee can decide that there is no proof that a particular employee of a university has behaved improperly. But it could well be that they have seen strong proof that some scientific works of that person are “tainted” by errors of some kind or other. They need to send the message to the local authorities that the matter is not closed by the verdict “innocent since no hard proof of guilt” regarding the personal integrity of the scientist under investigation. If there are serious problems with publications then the integrity of the scientist requires correction notes or even retractions. If this is forgotten, then the “affair” is not over, and will come back to haunt everyone. 

This seems to me to be the important message of the Nijkamp affair. It is not about fraud, and not about scientific integrity. It is about scientific quality. That discussion is still urgently needed and still has not happened.”

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