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posted by LaminatorX on Friday September 12 2014, @12:18PM   Printer-friendly
from the guilt-by-friend-of-a-friend dept.

Jeffrey Mervis reports at Science AAAS that in 1979 Valerie Barr handed out leaflets, stood behind tables at rallies, and baked cookies to support two left-wing groups, the Women’s Committee Against Genocide and the New Movement in Solidarity with Puerto Rican Independence. In August 2013 she took a leave from her position as tenured professor of computer science at Union College to join the National Science Foundation (NSF) as a program director in its Division of Undergraduate Education. And that’s when her 3-decade-old foray into political activism came back to haunt her. Federal investigators say that Barr lied during a routine background check about her affiliations with a domestic terrorist group that had ties to the two organizations to which she had belonged in the early 1980s. On 27 August, NSF said that her “dishonest conduct” compelled them to cancel her temporary assignment immediately, at the end of the first of what was expected to be a 2-year stint. Federal investigators say those groups were affiliated with a third, the May 19 Communist Organization (M19CO), that carried out a string of violent acts, including the killing of two police officers and a security guard during a failed 1981 robbery of a Brink’s truck near Nyack, New York.

Barr’s first background interview was held in November 2013, 3 months after she began working at NSF. During that session, Barr answered “no” when asked if she had ever been a member of an organization “dedicated to the use of violence” to overthrow the U.S. government or to prevent others from exercising their constitutional rights. In a second interview after again being asked if she had been a member of any organization that espoused violence, Barr was grilled for 4.5 hours about her knowledge of all three organizations and several individuals with ties to them, including the persons who tried to rob the Brink’s truck. Four people were found guilty of murder in that attack and sentenced to lengthy prison terms, including Kathy Boudin, who was released in 2003 and is now an adjunct assistant professor of social work at Columbia University. “I found out about the Brink’s robbery by hearing it on the news, and just like everybody else I was shocked,” she recalls.

Barr says she is thankful that Union College has welcomed her back with open arms and says she will soon resume her teaching and research activities. In addition, she regards her year at NSF as “a very rewarding experience in many ways.” Even so, she has written to her representatives in Congress and to NSF Director France Córdova asking them to examine what she labels an “Orwellian process” for vetting rotators like herself. “We volunteer to do this,” she wrote Córdova on 29 August. Until a better process is put in place, Barr says, “NSF runs the risk that many highly qualified scientists will not even consider serving as IPAs. That will be a tremendous loss.”

 
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  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by MrGuy on Friday September 12 2014, @12:21PM

    by MrGuy (1007) on Friday September 12 2014, @12:21PM (#92364)

    or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party?

    • (Score: 3, Funny) by nyder on Friday September 12 2014, @12:35PM

      by nyder (4525) on Friday September 12 2014, @12:35PM (#92365)

      or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party?

      No, i made the mistake of being part of the consumer party.

    • (Score: 4, Insightful) by davester666 on Friday September 12 2014, @05:37PM

      by davester666 (155) on Friday September 12 2014, @05:37PM (#92513)

      ...or have you ever associated with a member of the Communist Party?

  • (Score: 4, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 12 2014, @12:46PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 12 2014, @12:46PM (#92367)

    Background investigators also discovered that Ms. Barr possessed several recordings of music from John Lennon, who wrote "Imagine no possessions" and who was acquainted with Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin. Furthermore, Ms. Barr once attended a party in 1978 where radical music such as "Vietnam" by Jimmy Cliff and "Legalize It" by Peter Tosh was played.

    • (Score: 5, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 12 2014, @01:41PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 12 2014, @01:41PM (#92384)

      Not to mention that in 2005 she spoke with a scientist whose brother once was sitting in an airplane in the seat next to a man whose sister married the nephew of a communist.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 12 2014, @01:45PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 12 2014, @01:45PM (#92386)

        Well, I heard it was actually the nephew's uncle's former roommate!

      • (Score: 2) by bucc5062 on Friday September 12 2014, @04:41PM

        by bucc5062 (699) on Friday September 12 2014, @04:41PM (#92483)

        sadly, I feel that the NSA could actually make those connections...what world, what cruel world.

        --
        The more things change, the more they look the same
        • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 12 2014, @05:10PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 12 2014, @05:10PM (#92504)

          > sadly, I feel that the NSA could actually make those connections...what world, what cruel world.

          And that is how total information awareness makes everyone into a criminal.

        • (Score: 2) by PinkyGigglebrain on Friday September 12 2014, @06:16PM

          by PinkyGigglebrain (4458) on Friday September 12 2014, @06:16PM (#92532)

          More likely Facebook.

          --
          "Beware those who would deny you Knowledge, For in their hearts they dream themselves your Master."
      • (Score: 2) by DeathMonkey on Friday September 12 2014, @06:30PM

        by DeathMonkey (1380) on Friday September 12 2014, @06:30PM (#92535) Journal

        Not to mention that in 2005 she spoke with a scientist whose brother once was sitting in an airplane in the seat next to a man whose sister married the nephew of a communist.

         
        And, she watched a Kevin Bacon movie on the plane!
         
        Burn the witch!

  • (Score: 2) by Alfred on Friday September 12 2014, @01:38PM

    by Alfred (4006) on Friday September 12 2014, @01:38PM (#92381) Journal
    People with flawed integrity, people who knowingly lie, are not the best people to have in science.

    If they break your trust can you trust anything they did? Science is cold hard facts not "well, I don't want to mention this thing from way back even though it might hurt someone's feelings." Science is all about hurt feelings and finding out you were wrong (on the way to figuring it out). In fact it only mattered because she lied.

    Besides what was she thinking, America is more communist friendly now than any other point in history.
    • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 12 2014, @01:49PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 12 2014, @01:49PM (#92389)

      > People with flawed integrity, people who knowingly lie, are not the best people to have in science.

      People with flawed integrity, people who knowingly post without RTFA, are not the best people to have on Soylent.

      • (Score: 1) by arashi no garou on Friday September 12 2014, @02:08PM

        by arashi no garou (2796) on Friday September 12 2014, @02:08PM (#92397)

        I'm thinking you didn't read it. She wasn't fired for her connections to those groups, she was fired for lying about it. While it's possible they might have dismissed her for her connections, they definitely dismissed her for lying about it.

        I once worked in law enforcement, and you have to pass a polygraph to get hired. It's possible to get hired even with skeletons in your closet; one of our deputies was a reformed biker gang member who had been arrested for marijuana possession in his 20s. Ten years later he was able to work as a cop, because he was honest about it during the polygraph.

        • (Score: 5, Insightful) by pe1rxq on Friday September 12 2014, @02:26PM

          by pe1rxq (844) on Friday September 12 2014, @02:26PM (#92402) Homepage

          It is only lying if you know you are not telling the truth.
          If I understand the article correctly she was never part of the M19CO group herself. She might not have known about the connections between the different groups.
          (It is very much possible to be against genocide and in favor of independance without supporting robbery)
          It seems they can only prove she might have been naive 30 years ago.

        • (Score: 5, Interesting) by MrGuy on Friday September 12 2014, @02:48PM

          by MrGuy (1007) on Friday September 12 2014, @02:48PM (#92412)

          Nope. Think it's still you who didn't read it.

          In the first instance, she was asked if she was affiliated with any group "dedicated to the use of violence". And she answered no, because she wasn't. She was affiliated with a group that advocated for womens' rights, and another that advocated for Puerto Rican independence. Neither group was dedicated to nor advocated violence. However, those groups had some membership overlap with another group (M19CO), which DID commit violent acts. Note the language that the GROUPS that she was part of were affiliated with the GROUP M19CO. It's not saying all the members of one were members of the other. Nor does it appear alleged anywhere that SHE was a member of M19CO.

          This means the initial answer "no" is truthful. She was NOT personally a member of a group dedicated to violence.

          Membership in groups and what was in people's hearts is hard to reverse engineer, especially after the fact. The SDS was a student organization dedicated to non-violent anti-war protesting. Some senior members of SDS broke off and formed the Weathermen, who were most definitely dedicated to violent acts. Does this make every member of SDS a member of a group "dedicated to the use of violence?" Clearly not. Were there people who were members of the SDS who wanted violence? Obviously, since they broke off and formed such a group. Knowing someone was a member of SDS doesn't tell us much.

          It's open to question whether she tacitly supported the violence advocated by M19CO by being a member of non-violent groups that overlapped with M19CO. Neither you nor I know whether that was true. However, the NSF concluded this as "constitut(ing) a deliberate misrepresentation, falsification, deceit, or omission of material fact."

          I suppose the position the NSF takes is that she should have disclosed she was a member of a group that had members in other groups that supported violence - that the "one off" relationship was material and should have been disclosed. If that's their position, their question ought to be more explicit, IMO. Because how far do you go? Should someone who supports Tea Party organizations answer "yes" because some Tea Party organizations are supported by militia movements that advocate secession from the US (violently if necessary)?

          Personally (while I have mixed feelings on Aaron Sorkin), I think an episode of The West Wing nailed this point - someone deliberately answered "yes" to that question, just to point out how stupid the question was. Because who the hell would ever answer yes?

          • (Score: 1) by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 12 2014, @03:42PM

            by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 12 2014, @03:42PM (#92437)

            The other part of this is that the job was director of undergraduate studies. They (and this is the Office of Personnel Management, not the NSF) really have no business asking questions like that. It isn't a national security position. They are just asking stupid shit because the OPM handles national security jobs too and somewhere along the line some busy-body decided to ratchet up the pressure on normal people because there was little to stop it. Then that authority ends up in the hands of an investigator who, judging by his facebook posts, is primed to see liberals as enemies of the state and we end up witnessing the creeping nature of authoritarianism.

          • (Score: 2, Insightful) by arashi no garou on Friday September 12 2014, @04:19PM

            by arashi no garou (2796) on Friday September 12 2014, @04:19PM (#92462)

            Because who the hell would ever answer yes?

            I think this is at the root of the problem, as you indicated in your post. The question should never have been asked in the first place, in my mind. But the safe answer in most people's minds when put on the spot is "no", which can then be twisted around against the person being asked.

            Honestly I think they may have known about her affiliations during the hiring process, and it only became an issue once the feds were involved. That said, I stand behind my affirmation that telling the truth in an interview or polygraph is the best thing to do. You may not get the job, but it won't be because you lied.

            • (Score: 1) by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 12 2014, @04:25PM

              by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 12 2014, @04:25PM (#92467)

              > I stand behind my affirmation that telling the truth in an interview or polygraph is the best thing to do

              Bully for you!

              Now if you would only decide that reading the article for comprehension, rather than skimming it for bias confirmation, was the best thing to do too, we would be all set.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 12 2014, @01:55PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 12 2014, @01:55PM (#92390)

      "People with flawed integrity, people who knowingly lie"

      are better suited to politics.

    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Ethanol-fueled on Friday September 12 2014, @02:01PM

      by Ethanol-fueled (2792) on Friday September 12 2014, @02:01PM (#92395) Homepage

      America is capitalism for the people, socialism for corporations. And I strongly support her lying in this case because those intrusive questions were entirely inappropriate and had nothing to do with her ability to perform those duties.

      We haven't seen anything so creepy with regard to science since NASA's draconian Suitability Matrix, [blogspot.com] which states that homosexuality is abnormal and a cause for concern. If you were a homosexual working for JPL and were quizzed about your so-called "sexual deviancy," would you lie to keep your job? You bet your ass I would.

      If I asked you an obnoxious question like, "do you have a small dick?" Then I should not be surprised to hear a lie for an answer at best, if not a snide reply like, "Your momma doesn't think so." Or even a punch in the face. Same thing with other creepy and inappropriate questions.

      • (Score: 1) by arashi no garou on Friday September 12 2014, @02:13PM

        by arashi no garou (2796) on Friday September 12 2014, @02:13PM (#92398)

        While I agree with you that she should never have been asked those kinds of questions, I do understand why they did it. The NSF has deep ties with the US government, who surely pressure them about who they hire or allow to volunteer. I still think it's wrong, but I wonder if she would have been hired in the first place if she had been truthful. I'm thinking she would have; those sound like peaceful, mild-mannered groups. But who knows, it's a very paranoid world these days.

        • (Score: 2) by bob_super on Friday September 12 2014, @04:11PM

          by bob_super (1357) on Friday September 12 2014, @04:11PM (#92457)

          > The NSF has deep ties with the US government, who surely pressure them about who they hire or allow to volunteer.

          "Congress shall make no law (...) abridging the freedom of speech, (...) or the right of the people peaceably to assemble,(...)"
          Pressure from the government to filter people with questionable First Amendment backgrounds is by definition unconstitutional.
          As the first post points out, that doesn't prevent millions from having to answer the unconstitutional Commie question, because who's gonna stand up to defend free association with $Villain.

          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 12 2014, @04:34PM

            by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 12 2014, @04:34PM (#92476)

            "Congress shall make no law (...) abridging the freedom of speech, (...) or the right of the people peaceably to assemble,(...)"

            A group advocating the violent overthrow of the government is decidedly not a peaceable assembly.

            This is all beside the point, however, because Dr. Barr was not a member of May 19, did not advocate violent revolution, and did not lie on her civil service questionnaire. Some members of Women Against Genocide were also members of May 19, but Dr. Barr was not.

            Likewise, some members of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals are also members of the Animal Liberation Front. This does not mean that the SPCA is a terrorist organization. Or maybe it is. Maybe all those shelters are just a convenient front for passing information and money between active terrorists and millions of Americans who support them. Or maybe closer to home: if members of Anonymous support the EFF, then the EFF may be considered a terrorist organization. You don't support terrorists, do you?

            • (Score: 1, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 12 2014, @04:55PM

              by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 12 2014, @04:55PM (#92493)

              You don't support terrorists, do you?

              Are you accusing them of not paying their taxes?

          • (Score: 2) by monster on Friday September 12 2014, @04:35PM

            by monster (1260) on Friday September 12 2014, @04:35PM (#92477) Journal

            Sadly, it's not unconstitutional until the Supreme Court says so.

            • (Score: 2) by bob_super on Friday September 12 2014, @07:33PM

              by bob_super (1357) on Friday September 12 2014, @07:33PM (#92560)

              Don't get me started on the need to have more than one last-resort federal organ to review both all questionable criminal cases and all crummy laws and ordinances in a country of 300+ million people, 50 states (and a few colonies), and 3144 counties (including county-equivalents).

              Even more than that, what bothers me if that there is no safeguard (vetos have an override) for a law to be struck when it's clearly unconstitutional. If enough lawmakers agree on something silly, you need to find a victim with standing before getting into a multi-year battle to finally get the law struck down. There's a need for a constitutional check before a law comes into effect (Europe has seen many cases where a minority of lawmakers can petition a special court to review a specific grief against a law)

              • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 13 2014, @02:35AM

                by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 13 2014, @02:35AM (#92649)

                one last-resort federal organ to review [everything under the sun]

                ...and, on top of that, they only work from October through June.

                -- gewg_

        • (Score: 2) by MrGuy on Friday September 12 2014, @05:00PM

          by MrGuy (1007) on Friday September 12 2014, @05:00PM (#92495)

          I wonder if she would have been hired in the first place if she had been truthful. I'm thinking she would have; those sound like peaceful, mild-mannered groups.

          I really think this is the point you have yet to grasp on this thread.

          She was NOT ASKED to name all the groups she'd belonged to. She was asked SPECIFICALLY whether she was affiliated with groups that specifically ADVOCATED violence. And was asked ONLY about those groups.

          If she'd have been asked to name EVERY group she'd been a member of, and she'd decided to omit some of them, then the point you keep wanting to make (she should have disclosed them) would make sense. But that wasn't the question.

          The question essentially asked her for three things:
          * Think about every group you've ever been a part of
          * Evaluate each group on the criteria we asked for ("do they advocate violence?")
          * Name the ones that DO advocate violence.

          It's not like she named The Society to Rescue Puppies and deliberately omitted The Society for an Independent Puerto Rico. She wasn't ASKED to disclose groups UNLESS they advocated violence.

          She thought the same thing you do (that they're peaceful groups), which is why she didn't disclose them. Because she wasn't asked to.

          • (Score: 1) by arashi no garou on Friday September 12 2014, @05:59PM

            by arashi no garou (2796) on Friday September 12 2014, @05:59PM (#92524)

            The reason for my confusion is that I've read conflicting articles on this matter. Two days before it broke on SN it was on HN with a different source article, and it's on G+ as well. Lots of different versions of what happened. Not excusing my apparent ignorance, just pointing that out.

    • (Score: 2, Insightful) by resignator on Friday September 12 2014, @02:04PM

      by resignator (3126) on Friday September 12 2014, @02:04PM (#92396)

      Did you even read the summary before posting? By these same standards, every Christian, Catholic, and Muslim is guilty of belonging to a "violent group".

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 12 2014, @04:12PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 12 2014, @04:12PM (#92458)

        every Christian, Catholic, and Muslim

        So I get you don't consider Catholics to be Christians?

        • (Score: 1) by arashi no garou on Friday September 12 2014, @04:22PM

          by arashi no garou (2796) on Friday September 12 2014, @04:22PM (#92465)

          Some Protestants (particularly in the Southeastern US) don't, believe it or not. Personally I lump them together with Judaism under the tag "Abrahamic".

        • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 12 2014, @04:37PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 12 2014, @04:37PM (#92480)

          > So I get you don't consider Catholics to be Christians?

          A majority of Christian evangelicals do not consider Catholics to be Christian. It has something to do with the pope and the church being a sort of false god in and of itself because Catholics believe you need the church to intercede with god and protestants think you should talk to god directly. Ironically the catholic church does not exclude evangelicals from their definition of Christianity, they even go so far as to accept evangelical baptisms as equal to catholic baptisms for getting into heaven or whatever it is they care about. Maybe it isn't so ironic though given that the dictionary definition of catholic is all-embracing and universalist.

          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 12 2014, @11:46PM

            by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 12 2014, @11:46PM (#92618)

            Ironically the catholic church does not exclude evangelicals from their definition of Christianity,...

            Theoretically, no. Practically, they pretty much do. I believe that the term they technically use is that protestants are in "impaired communion" with the Roman Catholic Church (i.e., the real Christian Church). For practical purposes, this usually means that many (most?) Roman Catholics view protestants as being outside the saving grace of the(ir) church because they believe that grace is received through the sacraments administered by the priests in the Catholic Church, which protestants can't officially partake of.

            ...they even go so far as to accept evangelical baptisms as equal to catholic baptisms for getting into heaven or whatever it is they care about.

            I need a citation for this. Really? Are you serious? I could possibly see the Roman Catholics accepting baptism in the Anglican or (possibly) Episcopal churches. But Presbyterian? Baptists? Methodists? No way!

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 12 2014, @04:53PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 12 2014, @04:53PM (#92490)

      Lying doesn't matter if the science is sound. And on the other hand if their work isn't sound, then they should get the boot quite regardless if they lie or not. Science is not about believing. Science is about suspecting everything, repeating experiments and verifying results. Single data points are worthless. Mistakes happen and yes, people lie, all the time. Yet science inevitably progresses. That's the power of science.

      Besides what the hell do persons political views have to do with their ability to conduct scientific research?

      So sickening, so United States of American...

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 12 2014, @06:33PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 12 2014, @06:33PM (#92537)
        Hang on cowboy. >Lying doesn't matter if the science is sound. Depends on what you are lying about. Telling your spouse it wasn't an affair is one thing. Fudging data is an epic fail in science (and it is lying, so it does matter) I have seen people in the physics lab tweak their data on the fly to get better R values for their fits. The result is pretty much the same but the data looks nicer, no harm done right? Except it is academically dishonest. What about the time in a real lab where their tweak happens to be the wrong way and it shifts the conclusion. Now it appears that science is failing when it is really their fault. >And on the other hand if their work isn't sound, then they should get the boot quite regardless if they lie or not. Pretty much. Unless it is an "oh crap we forgot that variable, run the experiment again." That is just poor data acquisition, maybe poor experiment planning but I wouldn't say that is unsound, just unskilled. >Science is not about believing. Well it is believing until you experimentally prove it. >Science is about suspecting everything, repeating experiments and verifying results. Yes >Single data points are worthless. Yes but if most scientist were lying about results there would be problems. >Mistakes happen and yes, people lie, all the time. Yet science inevitably progresses. That's the power of science. This one is a wash. We cannot determine who the liars are and who is actually progressing science to see if there is any correlation. >Besides what the hell do persons political views have to do with their ability to conduct scientific research? They don't as long as they don't influence the science which they sometimes do. The influence might usually be in the decision of what to research, just so it can get funded at all. >So sickening, so United States of American... I don't think there is any exclusive lock out there. Bad science can be anywhere. Maybe you don't see it behind the cloud of lies ;-)
        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 12 2014, @06:44PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 12 2014, @06:44PM (#92543)

          Posting no preview fail

          Hang on cowboy.

          >Lying doesn't matter if the science is sound.
          Depends on what you are lying about. Telling your spouse it wasn't an affair is one thing. Fudging data is an epic fail in science (and it is lying, so it does matter) I have seen people in the physics lab tweak their data on the fly to get better R values for their fits. The result is pretty much the same but the data looks nicer, no harm done right? Except it is academically dishonest. What about the time in a real lab where their tweak happens to be the wrong way and it shifts the conclusion. Now it appears that science is failing when it is really their fault.

          >And on the other hand if their work isn't sound, then they should get the boot quite regardless if they lie or not.
          Pretty much. Unless it is an "oh crap we forgot that variable, run the experiment again." That is just poor data acquisition, maybe poor experiment planning but I wouldn't say that is unsound, just unskilled.

          >Science is not about believing.
          Well it is believing until you experimentally prove it.

          >Science is about suspecting everything, repeating experiments and verifying results.
          Yes

          >Single data points are worthless.
          Yes but if most scientist were lying about results there would be problems.

          >Mistakes happen and yes, people lie, all the time. Yet science inevitably progresses. That's the power of science. This one is a wash. We cannot determine who the liars are and who is actually progressing science to see if there is any correlation.

          >Besides what the hell do persons political views have to do with their ability to conduct scientific research? They don't as long as they don't influence the science which they sometimes do. The influence might usually be in the decision of what to research, just so it can get funded at all.

          >So sickening, so United States of American...
          I don't think there is any exclusive lock out there. Bad science can be anywhere. Maybe you don't see it behind the cloud of lies ;-)

        • (Score: 2) by khallow on Friday September 12 2014, @09:10PM

          by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Friday September 12 2014, @09:10PM (#92578) Journal

          Telling your spouse it wasn't an affair is one thing.

          You do realize that the interview question is pretty much along these lines. It had nothing to do with her scientific integrity.

    • (Score: 2) by Tork on Friday September 12 2014, @05:37PM

      by Tork (3914) on Friday September 12 2014, @05:37PM (#92514)

      If they break your trust can you trust anything they did? Science is cold hard facts...

      Isn't the BFD about science is taht it's reproducible?

      Besides what was she thinking, America is more communist friendly now than any other point in history.

      You're showing symptoms of talk radio poisoning.

      --
      Slashdolt Logic: "24 year old jokes about sharks and lasers are +5, Funny." 💩
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 12 2014, @06:49PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 12 2014, @06:49PM (#92545)

        > Isn't the BFD about science is taht it's reproducible?

        But liars waste everyone's time by making people (try) to reproduce results that are known to be false. And that's the best case.

        • (Score: 2) by Tork on Friday September 12 2014, @06:53PM

          by Tork (3914) on Friday September 12 2014, @06:53PM (#92547)
          You have to check for wrongness/lying anyway, that's science. The real problem you need to worry about is believing people who AREN'T using science, because when they lie it's a lot harder to tell.
          --
          Slashdolt Logic: "24 year old jokes about sharks and lasers are +5, Funny." 💩
      • (Score: 2) by emg on Friday September 12 2014, @07:43PM

        by emg (3464) on Friday September 12 2014, @07:43PM (#92562)

        And how often is any experiment actually reproduced these days?

        Far too much government-funded science these days seems to consist of 'we collected a bunch of data and we tried a hundred different possible correlations and found a correlation between this thing and that thing with a 95% confidence level'. And then either no-one ever does the same thing again, or the next person do it finds no such correlation, but finds a correlation between some other thing and some other other thing.

        • (Score: 2) by Tork on Friday September 12 2014, @10:17PM

          by Tork (3914) on Friday September 12 2014, @10:17PM (#92593)
          Verification has to happen regardless of your agreement with the results.
          --
          Slashdolt Logic: "24 year old jokes about sharks and lasers are +5, Funny." 💩
  • (Score: 3) by khallow on Friday September 12 2014, @09:00PM

    by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Friday September 12 2014, @09:00PM (#92575) Journal

    Given what her job entails, there's no reason for the background check, particularly for an interview. What strikes me as the ugliest part of this episode is that such interrogations are considered routine despite their irrelevance.

    As to her alleged lying, the employer should have an obligation to avoid unnecessary temptation. Most private employers have no business asking you about things that happened 20 years ago. And if she did lie as claimed, then it was about something immaterial to her job and in order to curtail an unpleasant experience. To give an analogy, that's like a bank just leaving money lying around to be taken rather than locked up with strict accounting. Behaviorally, I think a lot of people, if not most of us, have trouble resisting easy temptation. Sometimes being able to resist such things is a relevant job requirement (eg, military special forces). But not for the NSF.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 13 2014, @12:00AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 13 2014, @12:00AM (#92619)

      Sometimes being able to resist such things is a relevant job requirement (eg, military special forces). But not for the NSF.

      I didn't RTFA but this is the most disturbing part of this. What relevance does her past political associations (20 years ago?) have to her actual job duties? did no one at NSF even bother to ask this question? You would think that, as a bunch of scientists, someone at NSF would have noticed this and asked about it. I guess that they really are all a bunch of McCarthyists or maybe they really are just that clueless?