Science conference accepts fake paper


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I’m so glad it was peer-reviewed! A fake physics paper written entirely in gibberish using autocomplete function has been accepted by a science conference.

Christoph Bartneck, an associate professor at the Human Interface Technology laboratory at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand, received an email inviting him to submit a paper to the International Conference on Atomic and Nuclear Physics in the US in November. “Since I have practically no knowledge of nuclear physics I resorted to iOS autocomplete function to help me writing the paper,” he wrote in a blog post on Thursday. “I started a sentence with ‘atomic’ or ‘nuclear’ and then randomly hit the autocomplete suggestions. The text really does not make any sense.”

It only took the conference three hours to review the work and to accept it. They then asked the author to confirm his oral presentation and register for the conference for a mere $1099.

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13 comments

  • Localfluff

    At least astronomy is honest because it is commercially and politically inapplicable. The astronomers are honestly confessing that they are “hand waving”. With error bars taller than their logarithmic diagrams.

  • Jim Jakoubek

    Thus goes yet another instance where I shake my head and simply say hhhhmmmmm………

    The exert in the article was very enlightening indeed!

    Thanks again for your blog Mr. Zimmerman! This one got you your monthly donation! Keep up the great work!

  • bob sykes

    Sokal’s comeuppance. Referees and editors in all fields accept nonsense.

    Vox Day has long maintained that scientists are not immune to stupidity, superstition or corruption, and their papers and opinions need to be greeted with suspicion.

  • wayne

    The Infamous “Get me off your F-ing Mailing List,” paper, accepted by the International Journal of Advanced Computer Technology.

    Includes graphs and graphics.

    http://www.vox.com/2014/11/21/7259207/scientific-paper-scam

  • Localfluff

    The unassailable proof and alibi for the honesty of astronomy is that no living thinking being could possibly have made it up. It had to be naively discovered from scratch.

  • Cotour

    It had to be New Zealand.

    Speaking of which, has anyone seen or heard from Andrew W?

  • pzatchok

    “They then asked the author to confirm his oral presentation and register for the conference for a mere $1099.”

    The conference was charging him to give the paper. Why would they care what the hell he talked about?
    More than likely all they looked the paper over for was insulting language.

    Why would they want to protect him from ruining his own credibility?

    Granted any and all science papers should be labeled if they were given at ‘pay to present’ conferences or if they were given at legitimate and vetted conferences.

  • mike

    I looked, courtesy of Google. There is indeed an “International Conference on Atomic and Nuclear Physics” meeting in Atlanta in November of this year (http://atomic-nuclearphysics.conferenceseries.com/organizing-committee.php). Turns out there’s an organization that runs dozens if not hundreds of scientific conferences around this world, of which this is one. I suggest curious readers click on the site and then on the supplied biographies of the scientific “luminaries” cited as the Organizing Committee of this event — typically long-term American adjunct professors or retired Russians. Readers might notice also the links to over 700 “Open-Access” (i.e., non-refereed) journals, several of them “sponsors” of this conference.

    A scam, in short. My kindliest take on things: World-wide, there’s a million second- and third-string academics, retired with dim prospects (“University of Leningrad”) or obscurely placed (“University of Lagos”) or otherwise neglected (“an adjunct professor with 30 years of experience”). Some of these folks make a few extra bucks now and then by letting their names be used in connection with these conferences and journals; some of them are still cranking out papers themselves which will likely never merit publication in more selective journals, but which they might hope will find some sort of acceptance in published someplace that looks creditable and garner some psychological or professional reward (“I’ll be sure to make assistant prof this year!”).

    And there’s a bunch of … amateurs. “I’ve been building ultra-light aircraft for thirty years and learned a lot and people will profit from my experience designing pilot controls!” “I’ve had so many gardens ruined by intrusive termites here in northern Florida, and now I’ve found an insecticide that works! I’ll even sell some to you for the low low price of …” “The problem with Einstein’s equations, he made too many simplifying assumptions and dropped second-order terms, trying to linearize phenomena which are intrinsically non-linear, like gas responses to ionizing currents. I’ve included those factors for the first time in my analyses and provide an explanation of the surprising results….” Some of these folks want to be published also.

    And likely some folks are thinking “I have to visit Atlanta for Thanksgiving at my godparents. Suppose I drop fifty bucks on this conference one day and claim that and the air fare on my taxes … International Conference on Parasitic Antagonists … Looks close enough to air conditioning sales to satisfy me. It might fly!”

    And yet other people are making a living by providing such Opportunity. I’m sure they work very hard doing what they do and deserve all their income. I just don’t know whether to smile or weep at the phenomena.

  • wayne

    mike–
    Thanks for looking up those people!
    They trace back in part to “Conference Series LLC,” which appears to be a UK based operation with a worldwide reach. Including the “publishing” biz. (also appears a lot of their “journals” are on-line only, so they don’t even publish hard copy.)

    I’m wondering now, if I’ve ever taken any professional-education classes from their many (many) different subsidiaries. –I have to accumulate 24 “approved credits” a year to keep my license, which I can generally knock out with 2-3 weekend seminars.

    I can’t speak to the hard sciences, but in my profession there is a huge amount of phony-baloney “stuff” passed off as “science,” and the Interweb hasn’t helped the matter.

    “Russian janitor saves physics bowl”
    https://youtu.be/CZd8sDquNYw

  • Insomnius

    You can actually use a whole lot of words that say absolutely nothing if you obey the rules of syntax. Was autocomplete programmed to obey syntactical rules of grammar?

  • mike shupp

    Wayne —

    You’ve plunged even deeper than I, for which we all thank you!

    Boy oh boy, is the internet educational or what?

  • wayne

    Mike–
    If it wasn’t for you, I wouldn’t have looked!

    -link from the original article:
    “Beall’s List”
    >a list of questionable, scholarly open-access publishers. Updated regularly.
    https://scholarlyoa.com/publishers/

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