Most scientists have an instinctive dislike of hyperbole. Quite right too, according to Markowitz and Hancock [1] who have analysed the high and low rectitude papers of the famous scientific fraudster Diederik Stapel. Sure enough, the fraudulent papers can be identified with high sensitivity and specifically by the frequent usage of hyperbole (e.g. terms such as extreme, exceptionally, profoundly, vastly).

The CLAHRC WM Director always goes into a heightened state of alert when the author of a grant application he is reviewing prefaces a description of the proposed method with the word ‘rigorous’. Generally speaking, it signifies that what he is about to read is anything but!

— Richard Lilford, CLAHRC WM Director


  1. Markowitz DM, Hancock JT. Linguistic Traces of a Scientific Fraud: The Case of Diederik Stapel. PLoS ONE. 2014; 9(8): e105937.

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