Foster explained his decision to decline the 5 million Euro award in a post on his personal website:
Some time ago, I decided to return the Alexander von Humboldt-Professorship, for which I had been selected 1 year ago to the Alexander-von-Humboldt-Stiftung.
The decision I made in a rather relaxed situation. I hope that nobody thinks anymore that I did something unethical and I would urge those who still have doubts to read the recent excellent alternative explanations for my results under discussion, proving that such results patterns can be obtained by methods that are not problematic. More statistical analyses will follow.
Still, I am afraid that the conflict with the University of Amsterdam will furthermore cost a lot of energy. Surprisingly, I manage to cope with the enormous work load based on the constant and unfair attacks quite well – despite the assaults I finished my book, I set up an innovative teaching program, and I accepted more invitations for talks, books, articles, and reviews than ever. Indeed, I master all this.
However, given such situation, the organization of a 5-Million-project including 50 co workers is impossible. I am also afraid that my life rhythm will further depend on the UvA. Over the last 3 years letters by Dutch ethics commissions arrived 24th of December, on my birthday and shortly before Easter holidays…. I think that I will continue spending my holidays writing letters. I made peace with this idea that I will continue being the most interesting research project of Dutch statisticians. I got used to this. I will of course answer their questions thoughtfully and in detail. I will survive it.
Förster, now at Ruhr-Universität Bochum, has been the subject of two inquiries, and a recent retraction in Social Psychology and Personality Science. He has denied charges that he manipulated his data.
In his letter Förster claims to have had a Road to Damascus moment while standing recently on the top of a mountain:
But here comes the point: I do not want this anymore. Not at any price.
During my work on my new research project on “what having does to being” I changed my approach to life completely. I do not further want to chase after publications as was the rule elsewhere. I rather want to create theories from the breadth of my knowledge. I want to dig deeper.. I would like to inspire others with my work, and would rather like to do all the things that I am really interested in. More than other disciplines, social psychology creates ground breaking theories. This needs time, communication with others, it affords risk taking in thinking beyond trends and pragmatic considerations.
I will spend the rest of my life on BEING rather than on HAVING.
Thus, I will leave the materialistic and soulless production approach in science. And I want to say “Adieu” to 10 cruel years, in which my life was almost completely determined by others. I am going my own way now.
I feel very honored that I got into the reach of this award. I would like to thank the people of AvH for their constant and appreciative support and guidance through difficult times. I also want to thank all friends and colleagues who supported me in my work.
Hat tip: Rolf Degen