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World’s Top Empathy Researcher Accused of Widespread Abuse

OFFICIAL LEWEB PHOTOS/Flickr
OFFICIAL LEWEB PHOTOS/Flickr

Tania Singer is internationally renowned for her research into human empathy, but her colleagues say her actions speak louder than words.

The preeminent voice in empathy research is Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences Director and neuroscientist Tania Singer. Foremost among her research is a project which seeks to prove that meditation can produce kinder, more caring human beings. Unfortunately, it allegedly does not seem to have done very much for Singer herself.

“Whenever anyone had a meeting with her there was at least an even chance they would come out in tears,” one colleague said, in a series of anonymous interviews intended to protect the identities of the alleged victims of Singer’s abuse.

Reportedly, pregnant women were a particular target of Singer’s ire. “For her, having a baby was basically you being irresponsible and letting down the team,” one source claimed. Another affirmed: “People were terrified. They were really, really afraid of telling her about their pregnancies.”

Singer is also accused of pressuring colleagues toward research conclusions that would back up her hypotheses, raising ethical questions regarding both her work and the work of those directly related to her. Still, while it acknowledges the reports of her behavior, the Max Planck Institute has shown little interest in pursuing them.

“It appears the Max Planck Society decided it would rather sacrifice another generation of students than risk a scandal,” another source claimed. MPG has said that Vice-President Bill Hansson has investigated the issues, but all information regarding that investigation remains confidential.

Singer is a recipient of the Otto Hahn Medal, and Manager Magazin has called her one of the most influential women in German business. Describing herself, Singer said she is”simply passionate about the issue of empathy and social coexistence.” Now, she just needs to move from theory to personal application.

Singer has denied all accusations through her lawyer. She remains on a one-year sabbatical.

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