Never realized you could detect fraudulent data using Cronbach´s Alpha.
Dutch newspaper ¨De Volkskrant¨ published an interview this weekend on the large scale fraud by a Dutch professor in social psychology. Three of his PhD candidates discovered the fraud, using Cronbach´s Alpha to show that the reported scores on some scale were unrealisitically unreliable, while showing clear patterns in support of the hypothesis.
The exact argument is not provided in the newspaper, but I would assume it would be something like the likelihood of such an unreliable scale providing such clear patterns in the means structure of the data is very low, assuming the measurements were derived from a natural (=real, non-fraudulent) experimental setting. Sure, that is no proof of fraud, but it is where the seed of doubt was planted. The publicly available version of the article is found here (in Dutch), and newspaper subscribers have access to the much longer interview with the three PhD candidates that uncovered the fraud.
Ironic that a measure developed to calculate reliability, was used to detect fraud.