Posts Tagged ‘fraud’

Tapes expose Irish Bankers warts and .. warts!

June 30, 2013

That Banks and Bankers all over Europe have made a killing over all the “bailouts” is no great secret. Just how they have done it – and very often in collusion with friends within Governments – is slowly coming to light.

This week it has been the turn of the bankers at the Anglo Irish Bank. The Bank was finally nationalised costing Irish taxpayers some €30 billion. That is over €6,000 per head of population! No doubt the bankers made sure of their severance packages before they bowed out.

ABC NewsIn the age of austerity, senior bankers laughing about public-funded bail-outs is not a good look, but that is exactly what has happened in Ireland. There is outrage after a national newspaper published details of a taped phone conversation between bank executives mocking regulators and boasting they fooled them. The bank ended up collapsing, costing tax payers around 30 billion euros.

David Drumm ” We need the moolah”: CEO Anglo Irish

Irish Independent29th June:

Anglo Tapes: Anatomy of the bank that broke Ireland

Irish Independent 30th JuneFresh revelations in the Anglo-tapes scandal about Brian Cowen’s administration shows his party was willing to save the failing bank at any cost, his political opponents claimed. ……. 

……….. Fine Gael Dail finance committee member Dara Murphy alleged it was further proof of the cosy relationship that existed between Fianna Fail, developers and Anglo Irish. “While there is no doubt that the entire country has been sickened to its very core at what the Anglo tapes have revealed this week, the reality is that tens of thousands of families are living with a daily reminder of the greed, avarice and utter contempt that was shown to the Irish people in respect of the dealings at Anglo,” he said. (more…)

Closure for Stapel perhaps but social psychology remains “on probation”

June 28, 2013

Another Chapter in the Diedrik Stapel saga comes to an end as he reaches a deal with prosecutors but the exposure of his behaviour has revealed much that is not so uncommon in the field of social psychology. Social psychologists now need to be on their best behaviour to dispell the notion that “fraud” and confirmation bias are their stock-in-trade. Social  Psychology remains on probation and must avoid any hint of misconduct if it is not to lose further ground as an academic discipline ( but it will be quite some time before this discipline becomes a science).

Associated Press (via The Republic): 

THE HAGUE, Netherlands — A disgraced Dutch social psychologist who admitted faking or manipulating data in dozens of publications has agreed to do 120 hours of community service work and forfeit welfare benefits equivalent to 18 months’ salary in exchange for not being prosecuted for fraud.

Prosecutors announced the deal Friday, calling it “a fitting conclusion” to a case of scientific fraud that sent shockwaves through Dutch academia.

Diederik Stapel who formerly worked at universities in the cities of Groningen and Tilburg, acknowledged the fraud in 2011 and issued a public apology last November, saying he had “failed as a scientist.”

He once claimed to have shown that the very act of thinking about eating meat makes people behave more selfishly.

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.

Stapel fraud report blames lack of critical scientific culture

November 28, 2012

The massive Diedrik Stapel fraud broke a year ago and the final investigation report “Failing science: The fraudulent research practices of social psychologist Diederik Stapel” has now been published. The final fraud count is quite staggering. 55 papers, 10 theses and possibly a further 11 publications were fraudulent. That’s 10 PhD students who will have doctorates rescinded or must start from scratch! The report is in Dutch  (pdf): Final Report Stapel Investigation

Human behaviour in all its aspects and including social psychology are certainly disciplines worthy of study and I would not go so far as to say they can never become sciences. But social psychology is certainly  no science yet. Stapel’s behaviour – which is by no means unique for publicity hunting social psychologists – was nothing more than pseudoscience and will not advance the progress of this discipline into becoming a science.

Dutchnews reports:

A report into how a Dutch university professor was able to fake research data for years blames the absence of a critical scientific culture at academic institutions.

Stapel, who was a professor of social and behavioural sciences at Tilburg, was suspended in September 2011 after doubts emerged about research that concluded eating meat makes people anti-social and selfish.

The report, compiled by special commissions from four universities where Stapel worked, concludes at least 55 out of 130 academic papers written by Stapel and 10 graduate student theses he was supervising contain fraudulent data. There are doubts about the authenticity of a further 11 papers.

The 108-page report says colleagues who worked with Stapel had not been sufficiently critical. This was not deliberate fraud but ‘academic carelessness’, the report said. ‘The critical function of science has failed at all levels,’ the report said. 

In a statement, Stapel said he had failed as a scientist. ‘I am deeply, deeply sorry for the pain I have caused others,’ he said. ‘I feel sorry, shame and I blame myself. The truth would have been better served without me.’

…. Finance ministry officials are also investigating Stapel because much of his work was funded by public research money.

The Nobel prize that wasn’t: A self proclaimed scientist with a self proclaimed Nobel prize

October 28, 2012

Michael Mann is no scientist – but he likes to claim he is one.

Michael Mann is no Nobel laureate – but he likes to claim he is one.

Climate “science” is no science – but Michael Mann likes to claim it is.

Time for the so-called “climate scientists” to be held accountable for their alarmism and waste.

Diederik Stapel faked at least 30 papers

October 31, 2011

Social psychology is going to take a beating over the Diederik Stapel fraud. It provides ample fuel for the view that social psychology is no science but merely the half-baked opinions of narcissists and charlatans. Ego trips and TV appearances have governed the field rather than any scientific rigour.

The interim report of the investigation being carried out by the of Universities of Tilburg and Groningen which started in mid September is now out.

Diederik Stapel

The interim report (in Dutch) is here:

pdf Stapel interim-rapport

The extent of the fraud is breathtaking and the investigation is far from over. At least 30 papers have been found to contain fraudulent data, at least 14 doctoral theses that he supervised are compromised for using fabricated data and in all about 150 papers going back to 2004 are being investigated. Legal action is to be taken. This one is going down in the history books.

(Update! 1st November: Science Insider carries the story here)

Dutch News writes:


Rossi and his cold fusion E-Cat still smells like a fraud

October 31, 2011

Rossi & Co. announced their nickel-hydrogen fusion reactor back in January and have made regular press releases since then to keep the interest alive. They seem to have gathered a tail of staunch believers and, of course, there is a large body of dis-believers and a smaller group of sceptics.

But they are getting some attention even in business media as with this Forbes article:

On October 28th the biggest test of Rossi’s system, which is called the E-Cat, was conducted in Italy and some results were made public ….. Rossi’s E-Cat is claimed to use a secret catalyst to react hydrogen with nickel and, in the process, transmute the nickel into copper producing considerable heat. Whether this reaction works or not and if it does, exactly how it works, has been enormously contentious and the subject of numerous learned and amateur debates.


Media touts Camping’s Rapture garbage again — and again it shall not come to pass

October 16, 2011

Harold Camping is at it again. (Or is he? –  it seems to be the media just highlighting a statement on his website and recycling his May 23rd interview rather than any thing more recent). After his predicted May 21st Rapture failed to appear (after his previous failed prediction for a September 6th 1994 Rapture), the 90 year-old is  now predicting the great day will be next week on Friday October 21st.

Christian Post: Harold Camping has predicted that the rapture will take place on Oct. 21, following his May 21 prediction failed to come to pass. He explained this by saying May 21 was just the spiritual rapture, and the physical rapture would soon follow in October. … When describing the rapture prior to May 21, Camping spoke about a great earthquake “such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great.” He then said that those “who survive this terrible earthquake will exist in a world of horror and chaos beyond description. Each day people will die until Oct. 21, 2011, when God will completely destroy this earth and its surviving inhabitants.”

I suppose the Christian Post improves its circulation numbers by publishing this rubbish in addition to their usual nonsense.

But I note that the Family Radio websites themselves are just carrying a few lines which read:

But that universal judgment will not be physically seen until the last day of the five month judgment period, on October 21, 2011. ….. Thus we can be sure that the whole world, with the exception of those who are presently saved (the elect), are under the judgment of God, and will be annihilated together with the whole physical world on October 21, 2011, ….. 

Nevertheless, somebody must be making lots of money from this garbage. Camping is probably senile and apparently he suffered a stroke after the 21st May prediction (which was no debacle considering the amount of interest and money that was raised). But he is surely surrounded by those who are now intent on capitalising on the “Rapture brand” for whatever it is worth even if returns must be diminishing. The money for his Family Radio organisation comes primarily from milking the gullible and the suicidal and the weak-minded.

Newsvine: Amidst all of these predictions, Harold Camping has been profiting quite resoundingly.  The 2009 IRS filings from Family Radio, his radio network, indicated that it had over $104 million in assets.  And those profits aren’t all going toward Christian causes, like helping the needy or setting up missions.  Around $34 million of those assets are tied up in investments.  Harold Camping and Family Radio are profiting from these phony predictions, making money through their efforts to drum up fear.

Apparently in May, Camping and his followers spent a lot of money – though the numbers don’t quite add up:

The Guardian: Camping and his followers spent more than $100m worldwide on billboards and posters, financed by the sale and swap of radio stations. Advertising popped up across America and the globe from Iraq to Lebanon to Israel to Jordan, the Philippines to Vietnam, where thousands of the Hmong ethnic hill tribe gathered together on the Thai border in anticipation of the event. The campaign was backed up by Camping’s radio show. …. There has been a mini-boom in firms and individuals offering to look after the pets of those who believed they were about to be raptured. Eternal Earth-Bound Pets, set up by New Hampshire atheist Bart Centre, has about 250 clients who paid $135 (£83) for insurance policies that guarantee Centre and others will care for their animals when they ascend. Others paid out to sign up with websites that would send out farewell letters to friends and relations left behind.

But it all makes a lot of sense if one removes religion from the equation.

This is all just entertainment and the making of money from a serial radio show which is coming to the end of its natural life. It has been running since 1992 and no matter what one may say – it has had a very good run. The producer’s task is now to milk the “rapture” show until it is deserted by its listeners and has to be taken off the air. And if a few disturbed people give away all their belongings or kill off their animals or even commit suicide; so be it – it only strengthens the “brand”.

Hellesö apologises – sort of – and only further antagonises his Flashback nemesis

September 13, 2011

UPDATE! Hellesö says on his website that he has removed 96 pictures – presumably all manipulated. 93 were pictures of lynxes, 2 of badgers and one of a raccoon dog. 

Terje Hellesö, an award winning nature photographer, has been revealed to be  a massive fraud and a cheat. Many of his photographs have been manipulated with stock images of wildlife from the internet having been inserted into landscapes with many “artistic” effects. The skilful detective work in finding his manipulations and the source of the original images  has come from the on-line community of the Swedish Flashback forum. They have also put together a web site where all the manipulations discovered have been posted.  At least some 20 pictures have been manipulated and another 10 or so are suspicious. But Hellesö has removed all his old images from his web-site and it is unclear how many images he may have manipulated  and when he first started his fraudulent career. It seems to go back at least 3 or 4 years and it could be that the start of his manipulations coincided with his use of  digital images or perhaps with his learning how to use Photoshop. A new vocabulary has emerged for the fraudulent manipulation of images and based on his name as an adjective –  a “terjade” picture has now become an accepted  word-form!!!

The Swedish Environmental Protection Agency which had named him as the Nature Photographer of the Year 2010 has now withdrawn their award since their jury have now come to the conclusion that some of his his photographs even before 2010 were probably manipulated. Their press release (in Swedish) is here. However they are not asking him to return the prize money (about 15,000 kronor or $2,500) because they have no regulations about what to do when a prize is withdrawn. But, as some of the Flashback readers have pointed out, there should then be no hindrance in asking for the prize money to be returned precisely because there are no governing regulations.

But now Hellesö has posted a long, rambling, self-serving, self-pitying sort of apology on his website – which seems to be no apology at all but instead a form of damage control and an attempt to take charge of the narrative and to resurrect himself. He does not reveal how many pictures he has manipulated – perhaps thousands – and when he started his nefarious career. He does not offer to recompense the thousands who paid the expensive fees he charged for attending his photography courses. He does not offer to compensate the organisations who paid him dearly for including his images in exhibitions and publications and often lost money in their enterprises. He does not apologise for the heart-rending stories he invented from thin air about the circumstances surrounding his encounters with the imaginary wildlife that he was supposed to have photographed.

His “apology” is much too long, too badly written and much too self-serving to be reproduced or translated in full. But there are some sections which reveal his intentions quite clearly and that his remorse is no more than a micron or two deep.

I ask for pardon because I made a number of photomontages in which I gave you all 
a very different picture than the reality I was trying to convey. This I will never ever repeat in the same way. If in the future I manipulate images, I will reveal exactly how I do so. I never ever again will have a desire to cheat anyone. Or of having to lie to hide the truth. …. I hope with all my heart that you can forgive me, and that maybe I will come to get a second chance from you. …

It begs the question if he is admitting that his previous manipulations were intended to cheat people (as they did).

I will come to speak publicly about this in different places, in ways you will discover later. I will share much of that here in this blog as well. 

Indeed!! A new “show and tell” career perhaps.

I would also say sorry to the Environmental Protection Agency who gave me the award 
“Nature Photographer 2010”. The pressure that you had to endure in this, is not something I would have wished for you. I know you did not know anything about my current lynx project when you gave me this award, and I have read your reasoning 
numerous times. I understand that you now choose to withdraw the award from me, , but I will keep in mind your justification (for the award) for myself so that I can draw some strength for tomorrow. Over time, I hope that my pictures – including here on this blog – will be some form of redress for the choice you originally made.

He promises that his future pictures will be available for scrutiny and for expert comments which will be published on his blog. It seems to be just an attempt to create a way for his fan club to post nice things about him.

He clearly sees his resurrection – phoenix-like – from the ashes of his present career. He has been accused of being a narcissist, an ego-maniac, and much worse. But his “apology” has only served to anatagonise the on-line community even further and they are now mobilised and energised to scrutinise everything he has ever done.

But to me he sounds like Tricky Dicky did in 1974 – and I am old enough to remember his self-serving TV performances! An attempt to control the narrative of his own demise.

Bayreuth University: Guttenberg’s plagiarism was “intentional”

May 6, 2011

Der Spiegel:

Former German Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg always insisted that he had never meant to plagiarize portions of his Ph.D. dissertation. On Friday, however, the University of Bayreuth said that he copied intentionally.

… On Friday, the University of Bayreuth, which awarded Guttenberg his Ph.D. title in 2006, announced its conclusion that the former conservative ally of Chancellor Angela Merkel had intentionally plagiarized. Guttenberg, the university said in a statement, “extensively violated academic standards and intentionally cheated.”  

It is a sentence which completes one of the most rapid and stunning political downfalls Germany has ever seen. Prior to the questions about his doctoral thesis, the member of the Christian Social Union, the Bavarian sister party to Merkel’s Christian Democrats, had been among the country’s most popular politicians. Many had even tipped him as a possible successor to Merkel in the Chancellery. But in late February, the University of Bayreuth revoked his doctor title pending an investigation and on March 1, Guttenberg resigned from Merkel’s cabinet. He went on to step down from all other political offices.

zu Googleberg: image

Related posts: The zu Googleberg affaire

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