Research ethics

Whistle-blowers have a tough time

Whistle-blower cases that go on forever are not uncommon (see Nature 503, 454–457; 2013). The cold conclusion is that the whistle-blower may survive, but the odds are against him or her.

I have worked with whistle-blowers for more than 35 years as an expert witness in court cases and as author of the forthcoming book Don't Kill the Messenger (see www.whistleblowing.us), and find that they are hard to silence. The truth-telling part of their brain seems to override the health and safety part, so they will endure all forms of retaliation for the sake of truth.

Institutions can also be very slow to admit to any mistakes on their watch. This factor delays adjudication and makes it harder for the whistle-blower to prove anything in court.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Don Soeken.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Soeken, D. Whistle-blowers have a tough time. Nature 505, 26 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1038/505026c

Download citation

Further reading

Comments

By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.

Search

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing