Archive for the ‘Scientific Fraud’ Category

2016 Ig Nobels are more embarrassing than satirical

September 23, 2016

The problem with the Ig Nobels has become that they actually take themselves seriously. Unfortunately what should be satirical and irreverent has become an embarrassing example of politically correct, science “humour”. The awards have turned into a glorification of non-science, science fraud and stupidity.

The 2016 Ig Nobel Prize Winners

 The 2016 Ig Nobel Prizes were awarded on Thursday night, September 22, 2016 at the 26th First Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony, at Harvard’s Sanders Theatre. The ceremony was webcast live.

REPRODUCTION PRIZE [EGYPT] — The late Ahmed Shafik, for studying the effects of wearing polyester, cotton, or wool trousers on the sex life of rats, and for conducting similar tests with human males.

REFERENCE: “Effect of Different Types of Textiles on Sexual Activity. Experimental study,” Ahmed Shafik, European Urology, vol. 24, no. 3, 1993, pp. 375-80.

REFERENCE: “Contraceptive Efficacy of Polyester-Induced Azoospermia in Normal Men,” Ahmed Shafik, Contraception, vol. 45, 1992, pp. 439-451.

ECONOMICS PRIZE [NEW ZEALAND, UK] — Mark Avis, Sarah Forbes, and Shelagh Ferguson, for assessing the perceived personalities of rocks, from a sales and marketing perspective.

REFERENCE: “The Brand Personality of Rocks: A Critical Evaluation of a Brand Personality Scale,” Mark Avis, Sarah Forbes, Shelagh Ferguson, Marketing Theory, vol. 14, no. 4, 2014, pp. 451-475.

WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Mark Avis and Sarah Forbes

PHYSICS PRIZE [HUNGARY, SPAIN, SWEDEN, SWITZERLAND] — Gábor Horváth, Miklós Blahó, György Kriska, Ramón Hegedüs, Balázs Gerics, Róbert Farkas, Susanne Åkesson, Péter Malik, and Hansruedi Wildermuth, for discovering why white-haired horses are the most horsefly-proof horses, and for discovering why dragonflies are fatally attracted to black tombstones.

REFERENCE: “An Unexpected Advantage of Whiteness in Horses: The Most Horsefly-Proof Horse Has a Depolarizing White Coat,” Gábor Horváth, Miklós Blahó, György Kriska, Ramón Hegedüs, Balázs Gerics, Róbert Farkas and Susanne Åkesson, Proceedings of the Royal Society B, vol. 277 no. 1688, pp. June 2010, pp. 1643-1650.

REFERENCE: “Ecological Traps for Dragonflies in a Cemetery: The Attraction of Sympetrum species (Odonata: Libellulidae) by Horizontally Polarizing Black Grave-Stones,” Gábor Horváth, Péter Malik, György Kriska, Hansruedi Wildermuth, Freshwater Biology, vol. 52, vol. 9, September 2007, pp. 1700–9.


CHEMISTRY PRIZE [GERMANY] — Volkswagen, for solving the problem of excessive automobile pollution emissions by automatically, electromechanically producing fewer emissions whenever the cars are being tested.

REFERENCE: “EPA, California Notify Volkswagen of Clean Air Act Violations”, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency news release, September 18, 2015.

MEDICINE PRIZE [GERMANY] — Christoph Helmchen, Carina Palzer, Thomas Münte, Silke Anders, and Andreas Sprenger, for discovering that if you have an itch on the left side of your body, you can relieve it by looking into a mirror and scratching the right side of your body (and vice versa).

REFERENCE: “Itch Relief by Mirror Scratching. A Psychophysical Study,” Christoph Helmchen, Carina Palzer, Thomas F. Münte, Silke Anders, Andreas Sprenger, PLoS ONE, vol. 8, no 12, December 26, 2013, e82756.


PSYCHOLOGY PRIZE [BELGIUM, THE NETHERLANDS, GERMANY, CANADA, USA] — Evelyne Debey, Maarten De Schryver, Gordon Logan, Kristina Suchotzki, and Bruno Verschuere, for asking a thousand liars how often they lie, and for deciding whether to believe those answers.

REFERENCE: “From Junior to Senior Pinocchio: A Cross-Sectional Lifespan Investigation of Deception,” Evelyne Debey, Maarten De Schryver, Gordon D. Logan, Kristina Suchotzki, and Bruno Verschuere, Acta Psychologica, vol. 160, 2015, pp. 58-68.


PEACE PRIZE [CANADA, USA] — Gordon Pennycook, James Allan Cheyne, Nathaniel Barr, Derek Koehler, and Jonathan Fugelsang for their scholarly study called “On the Reception and Detection of Pseudo-Profound Bullshit”.

REFERENCE: “On the Reception and Detection of Pseudo-Profound Bullshit,” Gordon Pennycook, James Allan Cheyne, Nathaniel Barr, Derek J. Koehler, and Jonathan A. Fugelsang, Judgment and Decision Making, Vol. 10, No. 6, November 2015, pp. 549–563.

WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Gordon Pennycook, Nathaniel Barr, Derek Koehler, and Jonathan Fugelsang

BIOLOGY PRIZE [UK] — Awarded jointly to: Charles Foster, for living in the wild as, at different times, a badger, an otter, a deer, a fox, and a bird; and to Thomas Thwaites, for creating prosthetic extensions of his limbs that allowed him to move in the manner of, and spend time roaming hills in the company of, goats.

REFERENCE: GoatMan; How I Took a Holiday from Being Human, Thomas Thwaites, Princeton Architectural Press, 2016, ISBN 978-1616894054.

REFERENCE: Being a Beast, by Charles Foster, Profile Books, 2016, ISBN 978-1781255346.

WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Charles Foster, Thomas Thwaites. [NOTE: Thomas Thwaites’s goat suit was kindly released for Ig Nobel purposes from the exhibition ‘Platform – Body/Space’ at Het Nieuwe Instituut in Rotterdam, and will be back on display at the museum from 4 October 2016 till 8 January 2017.]

LITERATURE PRIZE [SWEDEN] — Fredrik Sjöberg, for his three-volume autobiographical work about the pleasures of collecting flies that are dead, and flies that are not yet dead.

REFERENCE: “The Fly Trap” is the first volume of Fredrik Sjöberg’s autobiographical trilogy, “En Flugsamlares Vag” (“The Path of a Fly Collector”), and the first to be published in English. Pantheon Books, 2015, ISBN 978-1101870150.


PERCEPTION PRIZE [JAPAN] — Atsuki Higashiyama and Kohei Adachi, for investigating whether things look different when you bend over and view them between your legs.

REFERENCE: “Perceived size and Perceived Distance of Targets Viewed From Between the Legs: Evidence for Proprioceptive Theory,” Atsuki Higashiyama and Kohei Adachi, Vision Research, vol. 46, no. 23, November 2006, pp. 3961–76.




Chris Turney – lead Fool of the Ship of Fools – is selling tickets for a lecture at the Royal Institution

July 15, 2014

I don’t know who gets the proceeds from this lecture at the Royal Institution (Tickets: Standard £12, Concession £8, Associate £6, Free to Members, Faraday Members and Fellows) but one hopes that Chris Turney – he of the Ship of Fools – does not.

There is no little irony in the announcement that

“Chris Turney will present the initial findings of the Australasian Antarctic Expedition 2013-2014, and show how private funding brought the public and science together”.

Chris Turney made an utter fool of himself in the Antarctic, and yet the Royal Institution is  providing him with an opportunity to defend his idiocy on 17th July.

To make matters worse the Guardian, instead of bringing the chief fool on the Ship of Fools to bookwrites in its own inimitable, fawning style

 Professor Chris Turney from the University of New South Wales decided to follow in the footsteps of visionary geologist Douglas Mawson, who led one of the first scientific expeditions to the region 100 years ago. Turney and his team of geologists, biologists and geographers retraced Mawson’s steps, repeating the original expedition’s measurements as well as conducting new studies and surveys. …… 

Chairing proceedings is the Guardian’s former science correspondent, Alok Jha, who was also part of the expedition

Alok Jha’s reporting for the Guardian was particularly inane.

Why the Royal Institution is promoting this charlatan and his commercial interests is beyond me.

He helped set up a carbon refining company called Carbonscape which has developed technology to fix carbon from the atmosphere and make a host of green bi-products, helping reduce greenhouse gas levels.

Related: Turney’s tourists: the heroes who weren’t


Academic backstabbing, misconduct, conspiracy and much, much more at Purdue University

February 7, 2014

The Purdue University School of Nuclear Engineering is the unlikely location for a tangled, sordid tale which I cannot make much sense of.

Professor Rusi Taleyarkhan is either a somewhat naive victim of a nasty conspiracy or he is guilty of academic misconduct and has received his just deserts. But his primary anatgonist was Professor Lefteri Tsoukalas once the head of the School of Nuclear Engineering but who was forced to resign as head by Purdue. Purdue removed Taleyarkhan’s endowed professorship, reduced his salary, and limited his duties with students. There is a murky connection between a journalist Eugenie Reich and Tsoukalas while Reich was promoting her book about scientific misconduct and there was some form of cooperation between them and a number of others to accuse Taleyarkhan.

Once I got this far I gave up.

There is quite obviously a great deal of muck in the Purdue University School of Nuclear Engineering. The University is probably vacillating between support for the warring academics. The role of  the journalist is what adds to the possibility of a nasty conspiracy.

It seems too tawdry to waste much time on though, of course, some careers are being destroyed and someone is – or both are – indulging in defamation.

The New Energy Times has a whole series of articles on the subject. They seem to feel that Talayarkhan has been badly wronged. This article in TwoCircles also takes that position. Tsoukalas puts his position in a letter provided to the New York Times (in 2007).

Oh what a tangled web they weave. It’s all about low-energy, table-top fusion — so it is all probably a hurricane in a thimble. I cannot help observing that cold fusion and claims of misconduct generally seem to go hand-in-hand!

Best “Bad science” stories of 2013

January 6, 2014

Business Insider carries its top 10 “dumb”/false/bulls**t science stories of 2013.

(Turney and his Ship of Fools easily qualify for such a list but will have to wait for next year).

(in reverse order)

10. A scientist claimed vaccines make you gay

9.  A TIME Magazine cover “cured cancer”

8. PETA claimed chicken wings can shrink a baby’s penis

7. A chiropractor broke a baby’s neck

6. A scientist used math to “prove” gay marriage is wrong

5. Portland rejected water fluoridation

4. Anti-Vaxxer Jenny McCarthy joined The View

3.  Bigfoot DNA sequenced

2. The return of Cold Fusion

1. Terrible nature “documentaries”

My particular favourite is of the Nigerian “Chibuihem Amalaha, an award winning student at the University of Lagos, is claiming that he’s “disproved” gay marriage through science — and he used the power of magnets to do so. His “groundbreaking” work is backed by the university”.

050913F.scientifically-prov.jpg - 050913F.scientifically-prov.jpg

Scientifically proved that gay marriage is wrong (image

But that’s not all. Amalaha, who says he’ll win a Nobel prize one day, has also used chemistry, biology, and mathematics to disprove gay marriage.

His mathematics of gay marriage is particularly illuminating. In an interview with This Day Live he says:

In mathematics which is another core area of science, I used what is called the principle of commutativity and idepotency. Commutativity in mathematics is simply the arrangement of numbers or arrangement of letters in which the way you arrange them don’t matter. For example, if you say A + B in mathematics you are going to have B + A. For example, if I say two plus three it will give five. If I start from three, I say three plus two it also give you five showing that two plus three and three plus two are commutative because they gave the same results. That shows that A + B will give you B + A, you see that there is a change. In A + B, A started the journey while in B + A, B started the journey. If we use A as a man and use B as a woman we are going to have B + A that is woman and man showing that there is a reaction. A + B reacted, they interchanged and gave us B + A showing that commutativity obeys that a man should not marry a man and a woman should not marry a woman. If you use idempotency, it’s a reaction in mathematics where A + A = A. Actually in abstract algebra, A + A =2A but we are less concerned with the numerical value two. We are more less concerned with the symbols A, you find out that A + A will give you A showing that the whole thing goes unchanged. It didn’t change unlike commutativity A + B give B + A there is a change. A started the journey in commutativity and A + B gave us B + A and B started the journey after the equality sign. But in the case of idempotency A + A will give you A showing that it goes unreacted. You started with A and you meet A ,the final result is A. Showing that a man meeting a man A + A will produce a man there is no reaction, it goes unreacted and in chemical engineering you have to send the material back to the reactor for the action to be carried out again showing that it goes unreacted. That is how mathematics has shown that gay marriage is wrong because commutativity proves that gay marriage is wrong. Idempotency also proves that gay marriage is wrong. So these are the principles I have used to prove gay marriage wrong in physics, chemistry, biology, mathematics and by the grace of God I am the only one that has proved this in the whole world.

One more scientist of Indian origin found to have faked data in the US

October 18, 2013

Nitin Aggarwal – a researcher in cardiology – apparently falsified and invented data. Once again a scientist of Indian origin caught faking data. Perhaps it’s the peer pressure – but it does make for depressing reading.

This is scientific fraud and  – once again – I wonder why scientists and scientific bodies should not be held liable and accountable for their “product” which is whatever they publish.

Maybe it is time to sell my shares in BMS.

Retraction Watch reports:

Nitin Aggarwal, formerly of the Medical College of Wisconsin, faked data in his PhD thesis, grant applications to the NIH and American Heart Association, and in two papers, according to new findings by the Office of Research Integrity.

(The case would have apparently first been published in the Federal Register on October 2, except for the government shutdown.)

Here were their findings:

…the Respondent engaged in research misconduct by falsifying and/or fabricating PHS-supported data in six (6) figures that were included in the following two (2) publications, one (1) grant application to the American Heart Association (AHA), one (1) grant application to NIH, and the Respondent’s Ph.D. thesis:

  • Aggarwal, N.T., Principal Investigator (P.I.), National Scientist Development grant application to the American Heart Association No. 11SDG7650072, “Sulfonylurea rReceptor-2 splice variant and mitochondrial mechanisms for cardioprotection and arrhythmia” (hereafter the “AHA grant application”).
  • K99 HL113518-01, “Mitochondrial ATP-sensitive K-channels and pharmacological approaches for cardioprotection,” Aggarwal, Nitin, Ph.D., P.I.
  • Aggarwal, N.T. “Endothelial 15-lipoxygenase regulates vasorelaxation and blood pressure in rabbits in normal and pathological condictions.” A Dissertation Submitted to the Faculty of the Graduate School of Biomedical Science of the Medical College of Wisconsin in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 2008 (hereafter the “thesis”).


Aggarwal won a $1,000 award for his dissertation in 2009. According to his LinkedIn profile and a recent speaker announcement, he’s now working at Bristol Myers-Squibb. We’ve tried to reach BMS for comment, along with the Medical College of Wisconsin, and will update with anything we learn.

Update, 6 p.m. Eastern, 10/17/13: The Medical College of Wisconsin tells us they have no comment on the ORI’s findings.

IPCC still cooking it’s books to cover-up the inconvenient truths

September 27, 2013

The 95% probability/certainty of global warming being due to human activity is based on a show of hands and not on any evidence or statistical analysis of data. What it actually says is that 95% of all global warming believers, believe.

Late last night the IPCC delegates in Stockholm were still messing around preparing their 30 page political summary of their AR5 report to be released today.

The political summary of AR5 is primarily a CYA effort to protect the posteriors of the policy makers (mainly political figures, bureaucrats and activists) in the face of a long row of broken models and broken hypotheses. The IPCC has forgotten that natural variability is a euphemism for unknown mechanisms which cannot be calculated or predicted. It is going to be interesting to see just how the summary report will cover-up, deny or ignore the long string of inconvenient facts:

  • Global temperatures have not risen for 17-18 years while CO2 has kept on increasing. 
  • Global temperatures have been declining for the last 11 years. 
  • None of the IPCC’s computer models have predicted the warming hiatus or the cooling over the last decade.
  • Global wildfires are lower than normal. 
  • Rainfall patterns (and the Indian monsoon) continue within the bounds of known natural variability. 
  • Food and grain production is at an all-time high. 
  • Flood frequency and flood levels have not been at unprecedented levels. Just more people live in flood-plains today than before. 
  • CO2 in the atmosphere reached the magic level of 400 ppm (albeit for just a few hours) and nothing happened.
  • How much of the CO2 concentration increase is due to carbon dioxide from fossil fuel. combustion is unclear but fossil fuel emissions are only 5% of global carbon dioxide emissions. 
  • The absorption and release of carbon dioxide by the oceans is unknown and the error margin is greater than the total amount released by fossil fuels.
  • CO2 absorption mechanisms do not care where the CO2 being absorbed came from.
  • The sensitivity of global temperature to CO2 concentration has been grossly exaggerated by the computer models.
  • Carbon dioxide concentration is more likely to follow global temperature (due to subsequent changes in emission and absorption rates) than to lead it.
  • Sea ice levels are increasing at both poles with the Antarctic at record high levels.
  • Polar bear populations are thriving and increasing.
  • Sea levels are continuing to rise at just the historical levels due to the recovery from the last glacial and are not accelerating due to industrialisation or the use of fossil fuels.
  • Oceans are still strongly alkaline and any increase in acidity is within known natural variability.
  • Coral reefs have shown themselves to be self-healing when damaged and are not showing any signs of ocean acidification.
  • Climate models have grossly underestimated solar effects because the mechanisms are unknown.
  • Sunspot activity in SC24 is well down from SC 23 and is not unlike the period of the dalton minimum during SC5 and SC6.
  • Clouds and moisture in the atmosphere have a much bigger impact on global warming and cooling than CO2 in the atmosphere.
  • Cloud formation is linked to sunspot activity and cosmic rays.
  • Global warming and cooling follow solar effects via the oceans in long decadal cycles.
  • The number of hurricanes and tornadoes are at historically low levels.
  • Heat released from the earth’s interior by tectonic and volcanic activity is not known.
  • A Little Ice Age is more likely than further Global Warming and a global cooling cycle lasting 20-30 years may have begun.
  • This interglacial is due (within c. 1000 years) to come to an end.

There is more we don’t know that we don’t know about the climate than the IPCC would like to admit. And for policy makers, activists and bureaucrats who have followed misguided policies for the last 25 years it is no longer possible to admit that they have been making “certain” predictions in an ocean of uncertainty. They have replaced scientific objectivity by “consensus science” where the validity of a hypothesis is based on how many believe and not on evidence. The 95% probability/certainty of global warming being due to human activity being touted by the IPCC is based on a show of hands of believers, and not on any evidence or statistical analysis of data.

Another fraudster unmasked in Dutch academia: Anthropologist Mart Bax

September 23, 2013

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”.

Why is the New York Times publicising fraudster Stapel’s book?

April 30, 2013

I would not have expected the New York Times to be an apologist and a publicist for a fraudster.

The case of Diedrik Stapel and all the data he faked by just making them up to fit his pre-determined results will always bring discredit to the field (not science) of social psychology. But Stapel is now busy creating a new career for himself where his fraud itself is to be the vehicle of his future success. He has written a book about his derailment and the adoring media have not only forgiven him but are now playing an active part in his rehabilitation: in  humanising him and publicisng his book. The con continues and the media are (perhaps unwitting) partners to the con.

The New York Times ran a long “analytical” article about Stapel and his fraud a few days ago. A long interview with Stapel and ostensibly a “neutral” piece the article is entirely concerned with humanising the “criminal”.  It seems to me that Stapel is very successfully continuing to manipulate the media which earlier used to idolise him for his ridiculous “studies” (eating meat made people selfish!). But if you look at the NYT piece as a piece of marketing material for a book written by a discredited author it all makes sense. In fact the NYT article might just as well have been commissioned by the publishers of the book

NYT:  …. Right away Stapel expressed what sounded like heartfelt remorse for what he did to his students. “I have fallen from my throne — I am on the floor,” he said, waving at the ground. “I am in therapy every week. I hate myself.” That afternoon and in later conversations, he referred to himself several times as tall, charming or handsome, less out of arrogance, it seemed, than what I took to be an anxious desire to focus on positive aspects of himself that were demonstrably not false. ….. 

Stapel did not deny that his deceit was driven by ambition. But it was more complicated than that, he told me. He insisted that he loved social psychology but had been frustrated by the messiness of experimental data, which rarely led to clear conclusions. His lifelong obsession with elegance and order, he said, led him to concoct sexy results that journals found attractive. “It was a quest for aesthetics, for beauty — instead of the truth,” he said. He described his behavior as an addiction that drove him to carry out acts of increasingly daring fraud, like a junkie seeking a bigger and better high. ….

The report’s publication would also allow him to release a book he had written in Dutch titled “Ontsporing” — “derailment” in English — for which he was paid a modest advance. The book is an examination of his life based on a personal diary he started after his fraud was made public. Stapel wanted it to bring both redemption and profit, and he seemed not to have given much thought to whether it would help or hurt him in his narrower quest to seek forgiveness from the students and colleagues he duped.

The New York Times : The mind of a con man Published: April 26, 2013

“The book is an examination of his life based on a personal diary he started after his fraud was made public.”  writes our intrepid NYT reporter.

Really? – and how much of this self-serving “diary” was faked or just made up?

Willingly or otherwise, the New York Times (and the reporter Yudhijit Bhattacharjee) are being duped and manipulated by a consummate fraudster.

Science and advocacy do not mix (the “Greenpeace syndrome”?)

December 4, 2012

It is not the first time that “activists” have turned to dubious and manipulated science to further their cause. And it will not be the last. The peer-review process which is supposed to catch this kind of politically motivated pseudoscience is often not capable of doing so – and certainly not when the purported science is presented in a stage manged  PR exercise. Anything published by an advocacy group may – sometimes – contain some science but – and it should be axiomatic – no advocacy report is ever science.

In this case a “scientist” – Gilles-Eric Seralini – who is also a well-known activist campaigning against GM crops managed to get the reputed Elsevier Food and Chemical Toxicology journal to publish some highly dubious results that genetically modified corn caused tumors in rats. Seralini is also known for making up honors or paying for them to be awarded to himself! Perhaps this should be called the “Greenpeace syndrome”. Greenpeace is not averse either to making up science to further their political goals. (In fact Greenpeace just today published another apparently independent study in favour of wind power but which they had themselves commissioned!)

Reuters reports today that

(Reuters) – The publisher of a much-criticized study suggesting genetically modified corn caused tumors in rats has come under heavy pressure from scientists to retract the paper and explain why it was ever printed.


Sasquatch (“Bigfoot”) DNA study has the makings of a hoax intended to be found out

November 27, 2012

A press release was issued on Saturday 24th November. A team of scientists can verify that their 5-year long DNA study, currently under peer-review, confirms the existence of a novel hominin hybrid species, commonly called “Bigfoot” or “Sasquatch,” living in North America.

It feels like a PR campaign to me rather than any scientific study. It has all the makings of a hoax for publicity purposes where the inevitable debunking of the hoax is expected – but where criminal fraud cannot be proved.

The critical weakness lies in the purported samples from Bigfoot which have apparently been undergoing genetic study. The “scientists” are decoupled from the authenticity or the contamination/manipulation of the samples and are protected from charges of fraud. Of course nothing has been peer-reviewed or published yet. No data has been made available either. Where the samples came from and how they were “prepared” also remains to be seen. And the “study”  has a rather obvious commercial interest (The scientist leading the study, Dr. Melba Ketchum is the founder of DNA Diagnostics). I have a strong suspicion that the objective of the hoax is simply publicity and the main objectives of the hoax will be to keep the story going for as long as “genetically”  possible. The results and data leaked must therefore also be stage-managed to be difficult to debunk or disprove so that the assertions can live as long as possible.


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