Florida State Professor Accused Of Falsifying Racial Data Quits

A Florida State University professor accused of falsifying racial data and research left his post with the institution. Several of his studies were previously retracted due to claims of dishonesty.

According to the Florida Standard, Eric Stewart is a Fellow of the American Society of Criminology. He was also, until recently, part of FSU’s highly regarded criminology department, but he abruptly resigned amid swirling accusations.

Contentions of falsifying data first surfaced against Stewart in 2019 when Professor Justin Pickett of the University of Albany made the charge. The two authored a 2011 study to determine if people’s prejudices led to urging harsher sentences for Black and Hispanic Americans.

The published results showed that as minority populations grew, the public insistence on harsher sentencing also increased.

Only, that’s not what the original research showed.

Pickett later discovered that the research figures dramatically changed. The sample size for the study increased from 500 to 1,000 while counties surveyed decreased from 326 to 91. In fact, the numbers were altered to result in a statistical impossibility.

It was then that Pickett requested that the study he co-authored be retracted.

Four more studies between 2006 and 2015 were retracted, leading to an inquiry by the university. Reportedly, however, two of the three individuals on the inquiry committee worked personally with Stewart.

For his part, the professor claimed that he was targeted by “data thugs.” He also told FSU officials in an email that Pickett “essentially lynched me and my academic character.” The school concluded that there was not enough evidence of dishonesty and the case ended.

But in June 2020, another retracted paper led to the reopening of the inquiry.

Pickett, while not directly addressing the Stewart situation, told the Florida Standard that there is far too much incentive to falsify data and precious little oversight. He cited financial gain as a motive and the very low probability of getting caught as reasons to cheat the system.

The professor remarkably asserted that 1 in 50 scientists admitted to faking data.

Stewart’s 16-year tenure at FSU appears to be over. He abruptly left his $190,000 per year position in March as the investigation into the latest allegation continued, though the school declined to discuss the issue.