Thursday, December 10, 2009

Megan McCardle can't abide talk of fraud and conspiracy, because, well, why would scientists commit their careers to fraud and conspiracy? Then she talks about the incremental corruption of the data, and looks at the Darwin example on Watts Up With That, and thinks *that* sort of fudging-to-stay-with-the-pack thing is going on.

Not fraud & conspiracy, but an accumulation of many little white lies.

Apparently she believes in the malevolent boardroom conspiracy of guys in masks calmly plotting bald-faced falsehood under indirect, dramatic lighting, with a guy at the head of the table resting his masked chin on his folded hands, going 'kukuku just as I planned'.


All big frauds originate in cluttered midnight offices with the customers screaming over the phone for results and missed deadlines, and corners cut *just this once* to meet quarterly figures, and we'll make it up next quarter, or the next, or the next, and each corner cut is cut a little deeper, a little farther into the meat of the work, until there's nothing legit left, just a floor littered with disorderly piles of papers and the discarded shavings of propriety and probity, driftpiles of rubbish which used to belong to someone's integrity.

Fraud is committed in a breathless distressed hurry. Conspiracies consist of harried fraudsters each covering up each others' complicity in each other's accumulated little cut corners. There's no dramatically lit boardroom of conspiracy, no masks, no secret society, no guy in the shadows. Just compromised closed circles of friends.

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