Many Canonical Works are Fraudulent

By: Tonya Mead, PhD, MBA, M.Ed, CHFI, CFE, PI

Researchers of late have scrutinized canonical works in academia, specifically the field of human psychology and determined based upon deceit if not fraudulent.

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Vox, in citing Medium provides a list of potential questionable studies (falsified research) such as The Stanford  (Zimbardo) Prison Experiment, the Robber’s Cave, and the Milgram Electroshock Test. Perry “revealed inconsistencies… and some evidence of researchers going off the study script and possibly coercing participants to deliver the desired results” (para 9).

The Power of Power

This website (and  my book) emphasize the ways in which environmental conditions can entice average, everyday people to falsify evidence, tamper with data, make false statements and misrepresentations with or without the intention to deceive (fraud).

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In each study cited, it is interesting how power figures have the ability to shape the attitudes of others and the capability to influence their decisions and ultimately impact the course of events. Here are just three examples.

  1. “The power of an authority figure- in this case Zimbardo himself and his warden to manipulate others to be cruel.” (Stanford Prison Experiment).
  2.  “The possibilities of researchers to “go off the study script to coerce participants to deliver desired results.” (Miligram Electroshock Test).
  3. Researchers manipulated the study group “young boys at summer camp into joining warring faction.” (Robber’s Cave).

The Personality of Leaders Influence Their Followers

Kahya of the Defense Sciences Institute conducted a study finding that leader personality influences follower behavior and attitudes. Niemeyer and Cavazotte found positive associations between ethical leadership and increase productivity of subordinates. What was most interesting though, is a study by Palanski and Simmons which demonstrated the authentic leadership and behavioral integrity of the leader were positively related to worker performance and subordinates’ commitment to the organization.

Man Inherently Evil?

The main takeway of this expose is that man may not be inherently evil, as the prior works tended to suggest (Stanford Prison Study, Miligram Electroshock and Robber’s Cave).  Rather, as argued here on this website; everyday people under a specific set of circumstances (Wortley Situational Crime Factors)  make choices (Decision Theory) for their own personal, professional or financial gain (with or without the intent to deceive)  to the detriment of other individuals and society as a whole.


It is up to leadership to use role modeling, positive reinforcement, rewards and peer pressure to guide people has they grapple internally when presented with choices to support the magnificent creation of every day lives or the destruction of the beauty of life itself.

Tonya J. Mead, PhD, MBA, M.Ed,CFE, CHFI, PI, formerly a certified K-12 Administrator and School Psychologist is author of Fraud in Education: Beyond the Wrong Answer and president of Shared Knowledge, LLC  If you like this article, buy her a cup of coffee. Support her work at Patreon.