Research Fraud in Allegra Goodman’s Intuition and Carl Djerassi’s Cantor’s Dilemma

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Inspiring a 2002 feature film in which Leonardo DiCaprio portrays him, Frank William Abagnale, Jr. is arguably one of the most memorable fraudsters of our time. Abagnale assumed several different identities and forged checks worth millions of dollars. This type of fraud, known as financial fraud, is what many people first think of when the word “fraud” is mentioned. There are, however, other definitions of the word. One area of particular interest to us is the use of fraud in the field of science and research. This is an issue in both Allegra Goodman’s Intuition and in Carl Djerassi’s Cantor’s Dilemma. In both novels, the characters sort of skirt around the issue (at least at first) as this is a very taboo topic no matter the …show more content…
In comparison, Cliff hid data for mice that was never reported in his results to the lab directors, Sandy Glass and Marion Mendelssohn, and was not included in the proceeding article. Both of these could be considered acts of fraud, but in different ways.

Cliff’s act of omitting data because it did not fit perfectly with the hypothesis he was working towards is more in the spirit of what most people would traditionally consider to be fraud. A few pages of unearthed, hidden notes were enough to bring down a man, his work, and his integrity. An extensive investigation that was done on the part of the National Institutes of Health and the Office for Research Integrity in Science and, initially, they concluded that there was evidence of fraud. The Philpott Institute won their appeal, but Cliff could no longer be trusted completely to work in the lab and the name of the lab was tarnished as well despite the fact that they were excused from the claim against them. Whether or not this was actual fraud, which I believe that it is because it amounts to suppression of evidence, did not matter. Just the accusation of fraud is enough to irreparably tarnish a scientist’s or a lab’s reputation.

Goodman uses the character of Cliff to bring up the issue of scientific fraud, and she does so in a very blatant way. Secret, hidden pages of data were never reported to the higher-ups which contain data that would considerably alter the conceived…

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