Another fraudster unmasked in Dutch academia: Anthropologist Mart Bax

After the unmasking of the massive scientific misconduct committed by Dirk Smeesters, Don Poldermans and Diedrik Stapel, the Netherlands can ill afford yet another scandal. But that would be living in hope. Now comes this scandal involving an anthropologist, Mart Bax, which appears to be just as massive a fraud.

It does seem that Dutch Universities are cleansing their academic stables. And by the amount of excrement being found it seems to be quite a task! I don’t think that attitudes and pressures in Dutch scientific research are much different to those in other parts of Europe. Which only suggests that while the Dutch are cleaning house, there is a great deal of muck waiting to be found in other countries.

(The picture in the earlier posting was not of Mart Bax but of the journalist who exposed him. The picture has been removed. My thanks to thinkerandtinker for pointing out my error and my apologies to Mr. Frank van Kolfschooten).

Bax retired as a Professor from the Free University (Vrije Universiteit) of Amsterdam in 2003. But for 15 years – at least – he has been making up data. He has invented places where he has claimed to have carried out research, he has made up titles for himself along with claims of non-existent teaching at prestigious universities. Some 64 papers of his 161 claimed publications do not exist.

  • Of the 161 publications claimed by Bax, 64 are non-existent.
  • The book Medjugorje: Religion, Politics, and Violence in Rural Bosnia (1995) mentions a blood feud for which there is no evidence at all. None of the inhabitants of the area are aware of anything like this happening.
  • Shortly after the publication of book mentioned above, Bax acknowledged that he misinterpreted some information, but claimed he did not have the chance to make any rectifications.
  • The commission established he did have the opportunity to rectify these errors at various occasions, yet never did.
  • After the publication of Medjugorje: Religion, Politics, and Violence in Rural Bosnia, Bax referred to the blood feud in three other articles, after he already acknowledged to be aware of the misinterpretation, which the commission labeled as “serious scientific misconduct”.

Retraction Watch: Bax, who studied an Irish town he called Patricksville, a Dutch pilgrimage site he called Neerdonk, and Medjugorje, a Bosnian pilgrimage site, retired from the Free University in 2002. The university began investigating Bax’s work last year after science journalist Frank van Kolfschooten published Ontspoorde Wetenschap (“Derailed science”). In that book, van Kolfschooten raised questions about Bax’s work into an alleged massacre at Medjugorje during the Bosnian War.

 NRC Handelsblad: Again fraud in science is exposed by a university inquiry. Former professor of political anthropology Mart Bax from the Free University has invented research, published nonexistent items put on his list of publications and  committed forgery in university documents. That concludes a commission of inquiry headed by historian Prof. Michiel Baud from the University of Amsterdam.

Volkskrant: The retired professor of political anthropology at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam Mart Bax has committed at least 15 years of serious scientific misconduct, forgery and plagiarism itself. That is the conclusion of the inquiry led by historian Michiel Baud in a report released today.  ….

The committee also calls it “very likely” that Bax has made up much of his fieldwork in Brabant and the Bosnian pilgrimage site of Medjugorje from his imagination. But the committee can not formally call it science fraud since Bax insists he was misled by informants themselves. Notes have been destroyed and the informants themselves are untraceable or deceased. The Committee therefore holds it as “serious scientific misconduct “,” deception” and “unethical scientific behavior”.

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4 Responses to “Another fraudster unmasked in Dutch academia: Anthropologist Mart Bax”

  1. thinkerandtinker Says:

    It is not the correct pic. This pic is of Mr. Frank van Kolfschooten.One of the journalists who exposed him.

  2. eezacque Says:

    What makes you think ‘Dutch Universities are cleansing their academic stables’? The Bax case was only investigated after it was unveiled by Van Kolfschooten, and after an article in de Volkskrant was published. That is, when the VU had no other choice.

    • ktwop Says:

      Just an assumption – maybe unwarranted – considering the number of investigation reports that have been made public recently. My perception is that the Dutch Universities are more open to starting an investigation than – say – German Universities – but that is only a perception.

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