Michael Lacour is a former aspiring political scientist famous for standing accused of a major academic fraud that made national news, embarrassed huge names in his field, led to a major retraction, and drove him from academia forever while netting his whistleblower a job at the prestigious Stanford University. So naturally I’d be curious what Lacour would do next, and I’ve been following his main sites, http://www.michaeljules.xyz and http://www.beautifuldataviz.com/ , for a while.
The takeaway is that the ever-enterprising guy didn’t stay down. He’s been learning to code and develop himself as a data scientist. www.beautifuldataviz.com is still clunky, but it’s much less unbeautiful than it was six months ago, so I figure he’s coming along well enough on his plan B.
It all makes me wonder what I’d do if I ever got in the same kind of mess, and what would others do about me. They’re questions worth thinking about. Most people probably don’t care and would be wary but ultimately ready to forgive me, though not to the point of ever letting me back in the ivory towers again. That’s probably justified. I imagine that a small number of others would continue to dog me no matter what I tried for next, and try to protect the whole world from me by spreading my old and new names on the Internet. On that I’m torn. There’s no evidence that Lacour showed any contrition, so maybe everyone should be protected from him. But suffering is a private thing, and it’s funny to make permitting the guy to ever breathe again contingent on his satisfying you that he feels bad or learned the right lesson. Assuming I’m actually not a sociopath, I’d want to draw the line at academia and assert my freedom to move forward from there. But maybe I shouldn’t be allowed near schools of any kind. So when you’ve been shunned at a national scale, what doors should remain open to you in even the eyes of your most toxic schadenfriends? The answer is clear, and Michael Jules Lacour nailed it: even the most dogged of your haters are gonna fall off if your idea of moving forward is to enter the private sector. There’s a fine history there: exiled Harvard primatologist Marc Hauser went into consulting I think. And sociopath or not, capitalism is made for thriving off of people with a name for exploiting the trust of others, and if it doesn’t affect the bottom line, the market is more than ready to forgive it.
I didn’t say what I’d do. Start a business. JK. Actually, I already know my plan B: get back into the organizing of worker-owned businesses. But I don’t think it’ll come to that. On the market now. Wish me luck.