Obfuscating language is what scientists do when they want to hide the truth from their reports. They do it by using complex jargon and other methods. According to Bjorn Carey of Stanford News, Stanford researchers can measure for clues in scientific research to tell if a scientist is lying. To detect for lies, they use what is called “obfuscation index.”
Carey reports that Jeff Hancock and David Markowits looked to the past, as far back as 1973, for research papers that were retracted based on fraud from scientific journals and they compared them to ones that were legitimate. By comparing fraudulent and legitimate research articles, they were able to find the patterns of words, phrases and data that scientists typically use to hide the truth.
Bjorn Carrey reported what these two scientists found during their research:
“They then rated the level of fraud of each paper using a customized “obfuscation index,” which rated the degree to which the authors attempted to mask their false results. This was achieved through a summary score of causal terms, abstract language, jargon, positive emotion terms and a standardized ease of reading score.”….
….fraudulent papers contained approximately 1.5 percent more jargon than unretracted papers.
‘Fradulent papers had about 60 more jargon-like words per paper compared to unretracted papers,’ Markowitz said. ‘This is a non-trivial amount.’ “
Computerized Plagiarism detectors exist, and something similar may be possible in the future to detect fraudulent scientific information. Carey reported the following quote that Hancock had to say:
” ‘Science fraud is of increasing concern in academia, and automatic tools for identifying fraud might be useful,’ Hancock said. ‘But much more research is needed before considering this kind of approach. Obviously, there is a very high error rate that would need to be improved…’ “
If you would like to read the research paper, you’ll need membership to Sage Journals, but you can see the abstract. The research paper can be found at this link: http://jls.sagepub.com/content/early/2015/11/05/0261927X15614605?papetoc.