Mysterious Whistleblower Identified in New Social Psychology Scandal

Blackout. On Monday, the university released a version of the report in which Simonsohn's name and method were redacted.

Erasmus University Rotterdam

Erasmus University Rotterdam in the Netherlands has identified Uri Simonsohn, an associate professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, as the whistleblower in the case of psychologist Dirk Smeesters. The university today released the unredacted report from the investigative committee that looked into allegations of misconduct against Smeesters. The report describes how Simonsohn discovered statistical problems in a paper published last year in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology by Smeesters and co-author Jia Liu of the University of Groningen in the Netherlands. (Erasmus University has said there is no reason to doubt the integrity of Smeesters's co-authors.)

When news about Smeesters's resignation broke on Monday, the university said it had made an agreement with the whistleblower not to reveal his name or the statistical method by which he had reached his conclusion, and in the committee's report, large portions were redacted. It is not clear why Simonsohn has agreed to go public now. He did not immediately respond to a request for an interview.

The unredacted version of the report says that Simonsohn has a manuscript in preparation called "Finding Fake Data: Four True Stories, Some Stats and a Call for Journals to Post All Data," which suggests he may be about to reveal more misconduct cases.

Simonsohn has tackled problems in social psychology before. Last year, he co-authored a paper titled " False-Positive Psychology: Undisclosed Flexibility in Data Collection and Analysis Allows Presenting Anything as Significant ." In that study, he "proved"—using common data manipulation methods—that listening to the song "When I'm Sixty-Four" made people 1.5 years younger.