The academic world is rocked by scandal as a Florida State University criminology professor, Eric Stewart, abandoned his lucrative $190,000-a-year position following bombshell accusations that he deliberately doctored data on racism studies, leading to six retracted studies during his tumultuous 16-year tenure.
Eric Stewart, a once-respected criminology professor at Florida State University, made a hasty exit from his role in the wake of jaw-dropping allegations that he fabricated data by tampering with sample sizes to make results appear more racist, as reported by the Florida Standard.
The sordid saga began when Stewart was first accused of falsifying data in a study he co-authored with University of Albany criminology professor Justin Pickett in 2011.
In the study, they delved into the controversial topic of whether the public demanded more severe sentences for black and Hispanic criminals as minority populations swelled. Pickett shockingly claimed in a 2019 complaint that their findings, which showed no relationship between minority population growth and sentence severity, were published with deviously altered data to imply a correlation.
Pickett's allegations included an astounding increase in the sample size from an original 500 to a whopping 1,184 respondents, and the study's suspicious conclusion, which hinged on data from a mere 91 counties instead of the full 326.
In a twisted turn of events, despite four more damning complaints against Stewart's other race-focused studies, the university's investigation committee, with two members who had co-authored studies with Stewart, shockingly found insufficient evidence for fraud and brought the probe to an abrupt halt.
In a desperate bid to defend his reputation, Stewart, who is black, accused Pickett of "lynching" his academic character by pushing for the study's retraction. However, a new allegation in June 2020 led to a sixth retracted study, adding fuel to the fire.
While Pickett remained tight-lipped about the latest investigation, he raised the alarm about researchers' incentives to publish studies and the glaring lack of accountability for falsifying data.