Monkey Business

Cotton-Top Tamarin listening to music as in an experimental environment

Dr. Thorsten S. Beck

Photographic Collage Illustration




Ex-Harvard psychology professor, Marc Hauser, claimed that tamarin monkeys reacted to the alternation of music patterns in the 2002 paper “Rule learning by cotton-top tamarins”, published in the journal Cognition. If true, this would have been an important discovery.


The research assistant who was asked to examine the research video of the tamarins, however, had a completely different opinion and felt that the monkeys did not have any reaction. This contradictory analysis of the result raised suspicion. Harvard’s report on the case says Hauser skewed his analysis and misrepresented results. The Office of Research Integrity issued a report after that in 2012 that claims that Hauser even fabricated data. In 2011, Hauser had already resigned from his position at Harvard, though he only admits to mistakes, not to research misconduct. The article in question as well as others have been retracted.




Anonymous. “Findings of Research Misconduct.” NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts, September 14, 2012.


Gross, Charles. “Disgrace: On Marc Hauser. A Case of Scientific Misconduct at Harvard.” The Nation, December 21, 2011.


Hauser, Marc D., Daniel Weiss, and Gary Marcus. “Rule-Learning by Cotton-Top Tamarins.” Cognition 86, no. 01 (November 2002): B15-B22.


Oransky, Ivan. “Former Harvard Psychology Prof Marc Hauser Committed Misconduct in Four NIH Grants: ORI.” Retraction Watch, September 05, 2012.


Oransky, Ivan. “Marc Hauser’s Second Chance: Leading Science Writers Endorse his Upcoming Book.” Retraction Watch, September 26, 2013.


Oransky, Ivan. “‛Misrepresentation,’ ‛Reckless Disregard for Basic Scientific Standards’: Hauser Report Reveals Details of Misconduct.” Retraction Watch, May 30, 2014.


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