Tag Archives: fraud

Science conference accepts fake paper

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.

Data manipulation at U.S. Geological Survey science lab

A federal lab has been shuttered after an investigation revealed almost 20 years of data manipulation and scientific misconduct.

The inorganic section of the U.S. Geological Survey’s (USGS) Energy Geochemistry Laboratory in Lakewood, Colo. manipulated data on a variety of topics – including many related to the environment – from 1996 to 2014. The manipulation was caught in 2008, but continued another six years.

“It’s astounding that we spend $108 million on manipulated research and then the far-reaching effects that that would have,” Rep. Bruce Westerman said at a House Natural Resources subcommittee hearing. “We know how research multiples and affects different parts of our society and our economy and … if you’re working off of flawed data it definitely could be in a bad way.”

The inspector general report [pdf] is very vague about the specific acts of data manipulation and misconduct, which is not surprising since this specific inspector general has herself been accused of “politicized IG investigations, pulling punches in trying to avoid upsetting political appointees.”

From what I can gather, the results from a mass spectrometer, used to identify the chemical make-up of samples, were repeatedly faked by the individuals who operated it. The research “predominantly affected coal and water quality research and related assessments.” It is however unclear whether politics played a part in this misconduct, or whether it was merely incompetence. I suspect the former, especially because the Obama-appointed inspector general went out of her way to avoid describing the misconduct in detail, and because it continued for so long, even after it was first discovered in 2008.

Fraud in many science surveys?

The uncertainty of science: An analysis of scientific surveys suggests that one in five may contain fake data.

With few exceptions, they limited their analysis to studies that asked more than 1000 people at least 75 questions on a range of topics. And to be conservative, they forgave studies for which at least 95% of the data passed the test.

That made the results all the more worrying: Among 1008 surveys, their test flagged 17% as likely to contain a significant portion of fabricated data. For surveys conducted in wealthy westernized nations, that figure drops to 5%, whereas for those done in the developing world it shoots up to 26%.

To me the difference found between first and third world countries makes the results more believable. It suggests that survey companies who do these surveys have a problem that should be addressed. Instead, the research

is being hotly disputed by the Pew Research Center, one of the major funders of such surveys. And the organization has gone so far as to request the researchers desist from publishing their work.

Pew reviewed the questionable surveys and found evidence that the analysis produced some false positives. They used this as reason to reject its results entirely. That the analysis has also been successful in detecting fraud in several surveys apparently does not concern them.

Fraud detected in science research that suggested genetically modified crops were harmful

The uncertainty of peer review: Three science papers that had suggested that genetically modified crops were harmful to animals and have been used by activist groups to argue for their ban have been found to contain manipulated and possibly falsified data

Papers that describe harmful effects to animals fed genetically modified (GM) crops are under scrutiny for alleged data manipulation. The leaked findings of an ongoing investigation at the University of Naples in Italy suggest that images in the papers may have been intentionally altered. The leader of the lab that carried out the work there says that there is no substance to this claim.

The papers’ findings run counter to those of numerous safety tests carried out by food and drug agencies around the world, which indicate that there are no dangers associated with eating GM food. But the work has been widely cited on anti-GM websites — and results of the experiments that the papers describe were referenced in an Italian Senate hearing last July on whether the country should allow cultivation of safety-approved GM crops. “The case is very important also because these papers have been used politically in the debate on GM crops,” says Italian senator Elena Cattaneo, a neuroscientist at the University of Milan whose concerns about the work triggered the investigation.

I know I am generalizing here and have not actually researched this, but I would bet that many of those same anti-GM websites and the people who support them are also firm believers in human-caused global warming. Similarly, I would guess that if you asked these scientists above who wrote the anti-GM papers they also would be firm believers in human-caused global warming. I know this is a guess, but based on years of watching these political battles I think a very safe guess.

Science journal publishes fake study

The uncertainty of peer review: A science journal has published a fake study that supposedly proved that kissing a child’s “boo-boo” has no medicinal value.

In their study, the authors claim to be members of the Study of Maternal and Child Kissing (SMACK) Working Group, which they say is a subsidiary of Procter and Johnson, Inc., the maker of “Bac-Be-Gone ointment and Steri-Aids self-adhesive bandages.” Procter and Johnson, which is not a real consumer goods company, is an obvious mash-up of Procter & Gamble and Johnson & Johnson, two consumer packaged goods companies which sell health care items like bandages and ointments. The only contact information for the study’s authors disclosed in the research paper is a Gmail address. Bac-Be-Gone ointment and Steri-Aids also do not appear to be actual products available for sale. Additionally, many of the academic research references listed at the end of the study–including one article entitled “So what the hell is going on here?”–also appear to be fake.

The journal, the Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice, claims on its website that all papers published by it are copy-edited and peer-reviewed. In this case I suppose the reviewers worked for Comedy Central .

More data tampering at NOAA

The uncertainty of science: An analysis of the 2015 climate data released by NOAA suggests that they continue to adjust the data on a yearly basis to cool the past and warm the present so as to create the false illusion of global warming,.

More here. There is no justification for these adjustments. None. Worse, the NOAA scientists don’t even bother to try to explain the changes, even the changes to past data from 2014 to 2015.

The most damning aspect is that the adjustments only shift things in one direction — increasing the illusion that the climate is warming. This strongly suggests that these changes are political and not scientific, and that there is fraud and corruption at NOAA.

The one climate prediction that has come true

Fraud at NOAA: Several years ago Steve Goddard predicted that, no matter what the temperature records told us, NOAA scientists would begin to declare every month the hottest on record. It turns out he was 100% right!

Be sure and look at the next to last graph at the link. It shows the increasing difference between the raw, unadjusted temperature data and the adjustments made by NOAA scientists. Not surprisingly, the adjustments all increase the trend towards warming, and have been doing so more and more with each year. Nothing can justify such adjustments, under any rational scientific argument. These guys are either incompetent, stooges for their political bosses, or political hacks. Or all three.

Posted on the outskirts of Phoenix.

NOAA caught tampering with temperature data again

A close look at NOAA’s temperature data for Maine has revealed that sometime between 2013 and 2015 the data was drastically adjusted to cool the past and warm the present.

No explanations for these changes has been offered. For some years they cooled the past as much as 4 degrees Fahrenheit, an adjustment that cannot be justified under any scientific method. As asked at the link, “Would someone please try to explain why this isn’t the biggest scandal in the history of science?”

Got $500? You too can get a scientific paper published!

A Harvard scientist used a random text generator to create a fake science paper entitled “Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs?” and was able to get it accepted at 17 journals. [Note: the link includes an auto-download of the pdf of the scientist’s fake paper.]

Shrime decided to see how easy it would be to publish an article. So he made one up. Like, he literally made one up. He did it using www.randomtextgenerator.com. The article is entitled “Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs?” and its authors are the venerable Pinkerton A. LeBrain and Orson Welles. The subtitle reads: “The surgical and neoplastic role of cacao extract in breakfast cereals.” Shrime submitted it to 37 journals over two weeks and, so far, 17 of them have accepted it. (They have not “published” it, but say they will as soon as Shrime pays the $500. This is often referred to as a “processing fee.” Shrime has no plans to pay them.) Several have already typeset it and given him reviews, as you can see at the end of this article. One publication says his methods are “novel and innovative”!. But when Shrime looked up the physical locations of these publications, he discovered that many had very suspicious addresses; one was actually inside a strip club.

Essentially, these fake journals are scams to get $500 from scientists, generally from third world countries who can’t get their papers published in the bigger first world journals. (What does that tell us about those bigger first world journals?)

The best line of the article however was this: “Many of these publications sound legitimate. To someone who is not well-versed in a particular subfield of medicine—a journalist, for instance—it would be easy to mistake them for valid sources.” [emphasis mine] It seems to me that if you are a journalist writing about a particular field, you should be reasonably educated on that field and be able to spot a fake journal. I certainly can. That it is assumed that mainstream journalists who report on medicine cannot speaks volumes about the quality of the field.

Why is Wikipedia deleting all references to Neil Tyson’s quote fabrications?

Link here. Key quotes:

Judging by many of the responses to the three pieces I wrote detailing Neil Tyson’s history of fabricating quotes and embellishing stories, you’d think I had defamed somebody’s god. It turns out that fanatical cultists do not appreciate being shown evidence that the object of their worship may not, in fact, be infallible.

And this:

These lovers of science don’t actually love science, because science requires you to go where the evidence takes you, even if it goes against your original hypothesis. What many of Tyson’s cultists really like is the notion that one can become more intelligent via osmosis — that you can become as smart and as credentialed as Tyson by merely clapping like a seal at whatever he says, as long as what he says fits the political worldview of your average progressive liberal.

The author, Sean Davis, provides some juicy quotes from these individuals, who all seem unable to appreciate the importance of honesty, accuracy, and reliability when it comes to science and journalism.

Neil deGrasse Tyson under attack for fabricating quotes

A series of recent articles have attacked Neil deGrasse Tyson for fabricating quotes and other facts in this lectures and presentations. This article provides a good summary.

The article also notes how Tyson’s behavior is quite typical for too many modern scientists, especially those who have been touting human-caused global warming these past two decades.

In related news, climate scientist Judith Curry gave a talk at the National Press Club this week in which she outlined very cogently the real scientific debate and how politics is distorting that process. Unlike Tyson, Curry does not mince words about the data, and considers the fabrication of information to be a terrible thing for scientists to do.

And then there’s this: The Lonesomest Mann in Town.

More fraud in academia

A simple background check on a West Virginia academic who was touted as a “genius” has discovered that his entire resume was a fraud.

[Anoop] Shankar isn’t a Ph.D. He didn’t graduate from the Harvard of India. He didn’t write dozens of the scholarly publications on his resume, and as for the Royal College of Physicians, they’ve never heard of him. He does have a master’s degree in epidemiology from the University of North Carolina and an Indian medical degree, but at least two of his green card references—attesting to “world class creativity,” “genius insight,” and “a new avenue for treating hypertension”—were a forgery.

Worse, when the investigation threatened his bright future he used two students to try to destroy the career of an investigator by faking a sexual attack.

And even worse yet, the academic community remains unwilling to deal with this fraud aggressively.

Although Shankar was forced out of WVU in December of 2012, the university has yet to address the case publicly, allowing Shankar and his work to continue unchallenged. In the last year alone, he’s published at least three papers, including one in the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association. He also landed a new job on the backs of taxpayers: associate professor of family medicine at Virginia Commonwealth University, a large public university in Richmond.

So far, the investigation has only focused on the man’s faked resume. No one has taken a close look at his medical research, though the article does describe one example where Shankar was actually teaching his students to manipulate data unethically to get the results they wanted.

As the article notes, “How many more are there out there?” As I’ve documented repeatedly in the climate field, academia no longer seems interested in cleaning house and maintaining honest standards. This story only reinforces this fact.

Sixty science papers retracted

The uncertainty of peer review: An internal investigation has caused the retraction of sixty peer-reviewed scientific papers that were published by a single journal, the Journal of Vibration and Control (JVC).

The network of JVC papers that emerged was incestuous, with the same small group of authors reviewing each other’s work and appearing together as co-authors. By the end of the year, the investigators had a list of 130 e-mail addresses associated with 60 papers, with one scientist as co-author on all of them: Chen-Yuan Chen of NPUE, who goes by “Peter.” When SAGE sent an e-mail to all 130 e-mail addresses requesting that the authors confirm their identity, none responded. “The authors were contacted again by SAGE in May 2014 to inform them that their papers would be retracted in the July 2014 issue,” says Sherman, but again none responded. According to SAGE’s official statement, Chen resigned from NPUE in February. Neither Chen nor officials at NPUE responded to e-mails from ScienceInsider

How was it possible for a scientist to become the sole reviewer on dozens of his own papers? The answer appears to be that Chen was allowed to nominate his own reviewers, who were not vetted by JVC,

Chen apparently created fake gmail accounts for both real and non-existing scientists and then chose these scientists both as his co-authors as well as his peer-reviewers.

The sad and dishonest state of economic research

A survey of professional academic economists finds that a large percentage are quite willing to cheat or fake data to get the results they want.

From the paper’s abstract:

This study reports the results of a survey of professional, mostly academic economists about their research norms and scientific misbehavior. Behavior such as data fabrication or plagiarism are (almost) unanimously rejected and admitted by less than 4% of participants. Research practices that are often considered “questionable,” e.g., strategic behavior while analyzing results or in the publication process, are rejected by at least 60%. Despite their low justifiability, these behaviors are widespread. Ninety-four percent report having engaged in at least one unaccepted research practice. [emphasis mine]

That less than 4% engage in “data fabrication or plagiarism” might seem low, but it is a terrible statistic. Worse, the other results make me think that the many of the 96% who said they didn’t do this were lying. 40% admit to doing what they agree are “questionable” research practices, while 94% admit to committing “at least one unaccepted research practice.”

In other words, almost none of these academic economists can be trusted in the slightest. As the paper notes, “these behaviors are widespread.”

A scientist whistleblower has found that publicly questioning bad science papers vs privately notifying the publisher significantly increases the chances of getting them retracted.

Surprise, surprise! A scientist whistleblower has found that publicly questioning bad science papers vs privately notifying the publisher significantly increases the chances of getting them retracted.

[Paul] Brookes ran the blog Science Fraud from July 2012 to January 2013, before closing it down in response to threats of legal action. For the PeerJ study, Brookes compared the outcomes of two sets of papers — 274 whose alleged data problems he chronicled on his blog, and 223 that he was e-mailed about but did not post before he shut the site down. Those private e-mails, he says, were also copied to the relevant journals, funding agencies and authors’ research institutions, so authorities would also have had the opportunity to review the allegations.

Of the 274 papers Brookes blogged about, 16 were retracted and 47 corrected by December 2013, he reports, meaning that action was taken in 23% of the cases. But of the 223 unpublicized papers, only two were retracted and five corrected — a rate of 3%.

As always, the more freedom and openness we have, the better. The only people who suffer in such a situation are the incompetent and dishonest ones.

A close review of the sources cited in the four studies that claimed a 97% scientific consensus supporting global warming has found that claim to be false.

More global warming fraud: A close review of the sources cited in the studies that claimed a 97% scientific consensus supporting global warming has found that claim to be false.

Instead of a 97% consensus, the review found that only 1 to 3% supported global warming. Quite a difference, eh?

The review’s press release nicely summarizes the incompetence or downright dishonesty of three of these consensus studies:

The Oreskes (2004) study claimed 75% consensus and a “remarkable lack of disagreement” by the other 25% of the abstracts she reviewed. Peiser (2005) re-ran her survey and found major discrepancies. Only 1.2% or 13 scientists out of 1,117 agreed with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) view that human activity is the main cause of global warming since 1950. Peiser found that 34 scientists rejected or doubted the alleged ‘consensus’ position outright and 44 claimed natural factors as more influential. At least 470 papers expressed no position on Anthropogenic (human-caused) Global Warming (AGW) whatsoever.

Doran & Zimmerman (2009) only assessed 79 scientists out of 3,146 respondents. Many scientists sent them emails protesting the survey design.

The recent Cook et al (2013) began with the broadest possible ‘consensus’ definition – rendering the idea of ‘consensus’ meaningless. Only 0.54% (or 64 scientists) explicitly agreed. Though Cook’s graphics on The Consensus Project website focus on fossil fuels, his study used the 1996 Houghton declaration which includes other human factors like agriculture and land-use change. Some 7983 scientists or 67% of the ~12,000 papers in the Cook study had no position on climate change. Many scientists publicly denounced Cook for wrongly assessing their work as supporting AGW when it does not.

Based on my experience talking to climate scientists as well as reading innumerable papers, I have always thought that the 97% consensus claim was weak or fishy. Now we not only have proof, we have evidence that the claim was based on lies.

Five years of hate and falsified news at NBC.

Five years of hate and falsified news at NBC.

This article is important because it documents the repeated times NBC has been caught deliberately faking news stories by dishonestly editing material. Worse, it also shows that, despite being caught at it, the network has refused to stop. If anything, it appears they have doubled down on their dishonesty in the last two years.

This says nothing good about NBC. It also tells us something far more terrible about its audience.

Nearly two thirds of the fraud and waste lost by the federal government in 2013 was paid by HHS, the agency running Obamacare.

Nearly two thirds of the fraud and waste lost by the federal government in 2013 was spent by HHS, the agency running Obamacare.

The total amount lost by either fraud, waste, or error equaled $106 billion, slightly down from 2012’s $108 billion figure. Of that, about $65 billion occurred in Health and Human Services.

But hey, what’s a few billion dollars here and there. It’s not like the federal government has a debt problem, does it?

In its minority small business program, supposedly designed to help minorities, the federal government has instead given millions to firms owned by fictitious people.

In its minority small business program, supposedly designed to help minorities, the federal government has instead given millions to firms owned by fictitious people.

This article illustrates how deep and extensive the corruption is in Washington DC. Things have gotten so bad that we hardly notice a story like this, even though it involves a level of fraud and illegality involving millions of dollars that has become almost routine within the small business and minority set-aside programs of the federal government.

The programs were designed, with noble good intentions, to encourage new businesses run by minorities or women. Instead, a minority or woman sets up a fake company and then subcontracts the work out to others (even though such subcontracting is forbidden). No one in the federal government notices or cares, and the fraud escalates, until in examples like the one at the link, it becomes so egregious that someone in government feels obligated to prosecute. And even then, it appears that the woman charged is only obligated to return some cash and a car. It does not look like she will serve any prison time.

Just imagine how much other fraud and corruption continues to go on in other federal feel-good programs that no one has bothered to stop or notice. The possibilities are numbing.

Forty-three peer-reviewed papers by a Japanese researcher are tainted with falsified or fabricated data, according to a Japanese newspaper report today.

Forty-three peer-reviewed papers by a Japanese researcher are tainted with falsified or fabricated data, according to a Japanese newspaper story today.

There really seems to be a lot of this going around, doesn’ t there?

The Dutch social psychologist Diederik Stapel — who made up fake data for at least 30 published papers — has reached an out-of-court settlement with prosecutors.

The Dutch social psychologist Diederik Stapel — who made up fake data for at least 30 published papers — has reached an out-of-court settlement with prosecutors.

More fraud in climate science

Fraudalent data

Steve McIntyre, the man who had demonstrated that Michael Mann’s hockey stick graph was a fraud, has now demonstrated that the work of a group of climate scientists attempting to resurrect it is even more fraudulent. It seems that in order to recreate the illusion of warming in the past four hundred years, the scientists, led by geologist Shaun Marcott, changed the dates on a series of ocean cores in order to get the results they wanted.

McIntyre found that Marcott and his colleagues used previously published ocean core data, but have altered the dates represented by the cores, in some cases by as much as 1,000 years.

Most significantly, the scientists made no explanation for changing these dates. It is as if they wanted to hide this decline, y’know?

The chart on the right, by McIntyre, illustrates the fraud. The black line shows the temperature numbers of the ocean cores used by Marcott. The red line shows the temperature numbers, as originally published in the scientific literature, for these ocean cores.

The discrepancy here is so egregious that it screams at you. More important, as John Hinderaker says,
» Read more

The sad state of modern science

Two stories today illustrate the levels of corruption that now percolate through many fields of science, helped by a willing and sometimes ignorant press.

First, a final report has been issued in the investigation into the fraudulent research of social psychologist Diederik Stapel. Sadly, it appears the report condemns the entire field:
» Read more

A new study has found that scientific misconduct and fraud is on the rise.

A new study has found that scientific misconduct and fraud is on the rise.

A review of retractions in medical and biological peer-reviewed journals finds the percentage of studies withdrawn because of fraud or suspected fraud has jumped substantially since the mid-1970s. In 1976, there were fewer than 10 fraud retractions for every 1 million studies published, compared with 96 retractions per million in 2007.

The study’s authors suggest that the high pressure of big science might be a cause, combined with an overall decline in our culture itself. I wonder if the influence of government money, granted not because of good science but in the service of a political agenda, might also be a contributing factor.

James Hansen’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies has once again been caught changing its past climate temperature data without explanation.

James Hansen’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies has once again been caught changing its past climate temperature data without explanation.

Surprise of surprise, the change had the effect of making the long-term temperature record support conclusions of faster warming. The biggest changes were mostly pre-1963 temperatures; they were generally adjusted down. That would make the warming trend steeper, since post-1963 temperatures were adjusted slightly upward, on average. Generally, the older the data, the more adjustment.

Hat tip to reader jwing who alerted me to this story. As I commented to him, this “also is old news, to my mind, even though this is a new discovery of corruption. This kind of fraud has now been on-going for the past decade, with no signs of any effort to fix it. Worse, the climate science field even denies that it has a problem. Thus, I don’t trust anything they tell me. I check everything twice, and then have doubts besides. Which is why I remain entirely skeptical of any claims these climate scientists make.”

And in this case, the climate scientist in question is James Hansen.

Hundreds of peer-reviewed papers in the field of anaesthesiology are about to be retracted because their data was fabricated.

Hundreds of peer-reviewed papers in the field of anesthesiology are about to be retracted because their data was fabricated.

After more than a decade of suspicion about the work of anesthesiologist Yoshitaka Fujii, formerly of Toho University in Tokyo, investigations by journals and universities have concluded that he fabricated data on an epic scale. At least half of the roughly 200 papers he authored on responses to drugs after surgery are in line for retraction in the coming months.

Like many cases of fraud, this one has raised questions about how the misconduct went undetected for so long. But the scope and duration of Fujii’s deception have shaken multiple journals and the entire field of anesthesiology, which has seen other high-profile frauds in the past few years.

Fujii’s work was published in many different journals, where it appears none of his referees ever checked his data. Worse, this is not the first such case in this field.
» Read more

Another psychologist has resigned amid questions over the validity of his research.

Another psychologist has resigned amid questions over the validity of his research.

This and other recent cases (here, here, here, here, here, here) are more evidence that the peer review process in some fields is badly broken, that the reviewers are too often not doing the reviewing they are supposed to, and in some cases might very well be participating in scientific fraud themselves.

The pork of Obamacare

The Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), created by Obamacare, announced its first round of grants today, part of a funding program of fifty “pilot projects” totaling $30 million.

It didn’t take much research for me to conclude that, while some of this work might be useful, most of it sounds like bureaucratic claptrap. For example, consider the description Nature gives for these three grants:
» Read more

NBC has been caught again, for the third time this year, of selectively editing news footage to create a false scenario.

NBC has been caught again, for the third time this year, of selectively editing news footage to create a false scenario.

In all three cases the false scenario aided Democratic leftwing politics.

I mention this story only to emphasis how completely unreliable NBC is as a source of news information. Sadly, none of the other media networks are much better.

Spending money on silliness at the NSF and NIH

Your tax dollars at work: Spending money on silliness at the NSF and NIH.

Coburn’s report identified a number of projects that will make most Americans—scientists and nonscientists alike—shake their heads. They include studies of: how to ride a bike; when dogs became man’s best friend; whether political views are genetically predetermined; whether parents choose trendy baby names; and when the best time is to buy a ticket to a sold-out sporting event. And it noted that “only politicians appear to benefit from other NSF studies, such as research on what motivates individuals to make political donations, how politicians can benefit from Internet town halls…and how politicians use the Internet.”

Read the whole thing, as it gives a scientist’s perspective of this waste, which is sometimes not as obvious as the examples above.

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