The startling news from Cambridge: 10 percent of incoming Harvard freshmen cheated on exams while in high school. That factoid, taken from a survey conducted by the student-run Harvard Crimson, shook up the chatterati, prompting much handwringing about the crumbling morals of today’s youth and the impending fall of civilization. Roman Empire, here we come! In truth, what the survey should have prompted was skepticism.
According to a 2012 national study by the Josephson Institute’s Center for Youth Ethics, 51 percent of high schoolers admit to having cheated on an exam. The Institute’s analysis, conducted every other year, has consistently found a majority of students to be cheaters. So if the Crimson’s numbers are right, then far from being ethically challenged, Harvard freshmen are saints. And since Harvard students aren’t saints (they only play them in those fantasy-drenched essays they write to try to gain admission), something’s wrong. An obvious conclusion: Harvard students actually cheated on a survey about cheating.