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More Troubles For Authors of Controversial Acid-Bath Stem Cell Articles

Unknown Lamer posted about 6 months ago | from the all-the-great-ideas-are-lies dept.

Science 99

bmahersciwriter writes "Reports early this year about a strikingly simple method for deriving pluripotent stem cells were met with amazement and deep skepticism, then claims that the experiments were not reproducible, then accusations of copied and manipulated figures. Now, the first author of one of the papers is being lambasted for having copied the first 20 pages of her doctoral thesis from an NIH primer on stem cells. And an adviser on her thesis committee says he was never asked to review it. Could this get any stranger? Probably!"

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th1rd (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46523633)

!!!

Re: th1rd (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46523649)

Nice dubs!

Science, I think not (5, Insightful)

multimediavt (965608) | about 6 months ago | (#46523639)

When there is obvious chicanery involved and the experiments aren't reproducible, that is not science. Why does this story of science fiction get a science tag? It's not science if it's fake, folks. That's called fraud.

No true Scotsman/scientist would ever... (1)

DeafDumbBlind (264205) | about 6 months ago | (#46523721)

NT

Re:No true Scotsman/scientist would ever... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46523747)

Saying that A != B is not a no true Scotsman. Just stop it.

Re:No true Scotsman/scientist would ever... (1)

i kan reed (749298) | about 6 months ago | (#46524497)

Saying that A != B is not a no true Scotsman. Just stop it.

It certainly can be. In this case it is, because it amounts to failing to acknowledge systemic problems with the scientific publishing establishment. In that frequently critical claims go no further than peer review before gaining acceptance, and reproducing results doesn't quite get the attention it needs.

My solution: rather than having PhD thesises being predicated on new discovery, they should be about reproducing an as-yet-unreproduced result that's been published, or better and more respectable, taking out an existing paper.

Re:No true Scotsman/scientist would ever... (2, Insightful)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 6 months ago | (#46525195)

No it isn't. Saying fraud "is not science" is very far from a No True Scotsman argument.

No True Scotsman arguments rely on someone's opinion of what a Scotsman is. Fraud is in FACT not science. Opinion has nothing to do with it.

Whether there actually was fraud in this case is another matter. But GP didn't make a comment about this case, he made a general comment about fraud in science. So it wasn't No True Scotsman.

YOU, on the other hand, say that failing to acknowledge problems in science circles is relevant. But no, it's not. Regardless of the amount of fraud, fraud is still not science. So it's still not No True Scotsman.

You appear to be thinking of this along the line of those who say that a claim of "slippery slope" is a fallacy. But that's not true either. Slippery slope can be a fallacious argument, when there is no slippery slope. But slippery slopes can and do exist.

In the same vein, "X is not Y" can be a No True Scotsman argument, but often (I would say usually) is not. This time it is not.

Re:No true Scotsman/scientist would ever... (2)

i kan reed (749298) | about 6 months ago | (#46525439)

Fraud is in FACT not science. Opinion has nothing to do with it.

Says you.

Re:No true Scotsman/scientist would ever... (1)

Frnknstn (663642) | about 6 months ago | (#46527231)

Science that includes some fraudulent data can be science. Bad science, but science nonetheless.

A scientist skipping a intermediate few steps and then filling in some data to match his expectations so that his paper can be published -- that is fraud, and science.

Another good example is climate change denial science. It willfully ignores counterarguments, cherry-picks data to fit hypotheses, but it still counts as science.

Re:No true Scotsman/scientist would ever... (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 6 months ago | (#46535989)

"Another good example is climate change denial science. It willfully ignores counterarguments, cherry-picks data to fit hypotheses, but it still counts as science."

I could show you about 20 clear examples of "climate scientists" doing that today, if I had the time, and more over the next week after I had time to dig them up. I don't deny that some "deniers", as you put it, may be guilty too but to suggest this is one-sided is just dishonest. I know about quite a bit of dishonest "science" going on in the "global warming" ranks. Including, just for one example, that bogus "97%" claim made recently. It's such statistical garbage that the guys who put it forward should have any license to practice "science" revoked.

Re:No true Scotsman/scientist would ever... (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 6 months ago | (#46527417)

"Fraud is in FACT not science" But scientist can commit fraud. And when you say, well when the scientist commits fraud isn't really doing science, you are falling into the Scottsman fallacy.

If you say: scientists don't commit afraid, and I say that scientist did, and you say well she's not doing science because she commited fraud. That's a Scottsman fallacy. You can do science AND lie about the results.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
No True Scotsman

This fallacy is a form of circular reasoning, in that it attempts to include a conclusion about something in the very definition of the word itself. It is therefore also a semantic argument.

The term comes from the example: If Ian claims that all Scotsman are brave, and you provide a counter example of a Scotsman who is clearly a coward, Ian might respond, “Well, then, he’s no true Scotsman.” In essence Ian claims that all Scotsman are brave by including bravery in the definition of what it is to be a Scotsman. This argument does not establish any facts or new information, and is limited to Ian’s definition of the word, “Scotsman.”

and since you mentioned it:
Slippery Slope

This logical fallacy is the argument that a position is not consistent or tenable because accepting the position means that the extreme of the position must also be accepted. But moderate positions do not necessarily lead down the slippery slope to the extreme.

Both from:
http://www.theskepticsguide.or... [theskepticsguide.org]

Re:No true Scotsman/scientist would ever... (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 6 months ago | (#46536101)

""Fraud is in FACT not science" But scientist can commit fraud. And when you say, well when the scientist commits fraud isn't really doing science, you are falling into the Scottsman fallacy."

No, you're not. Because fraud still isn't science. Science has well-established rules such as verifiability, repeatability, prediction, lack of bias. If you violate those rules by committing fraud you're not doing science. That isn't "One True Scotsman", it's simply a statement of concrete fact.

Thanks for the example, but I know how the "One True Scotsman" fallacy works. This isn't it.

"This logical fallacy is the argument that a position is not consistent or tenable because accepting the position means that the extreme of the position must also be accepted. But moderate positions do not necessarily lead down the slippery slope to the extreme."

I also know what that is, and that's why I mentioned it. The key words in your quote are "not necessarily". One CAN make a "slippery slope" argument without it being fallacious. But when you claim a slippery slope where none actually exists, then the fallacy arises. The point being: it's possible to make slippery slope arguments without indulging in the "slippery slope fallacy", and it is possible to make "X is not Y" arguments without committing the One True Scotsman fallacy.

The fact that these fallacies exist does not mean that they hold true in all possible circumstances.

Re:No true Scotsman/scientist would ever... (1)

cheesybagel (670288) | about 6 months ago | (#46525449)

A lot of MScs consist of reproducing published results as it is. The problem is not enough time and resources to conduct proper peer review before publishing.

Re:No true Scotsman/scientist would ever... (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 6 months ago | (#46527425)

publishing is the FIRST step in peer review.

Re:Science, I think not (5, Interesting)

Ol Olsoc (1175323) | about 6 months ago | (#46523761)

When there is obvious chicanery involved and the experiments aren't reproducible, that is not science. Why does this story of science fiction get a science tag? It's not science if it's fake, folks. That's called fraud.

Because the fraud - if it was - was done in the name of science.

As a person of science, I am both angered by the apparent fraud, and very pleased that other scientists are going after the perps.

This is the system working, and it is working well.

Cold fusion, Piltdown man, recent anti-AGW work by shill organizations, and this. All frauds, all exposed.

In a science based system, with worldwide research, the truth will out itself.

Re:Science, I think not (1)

turning in circles (2882659) | about 6 months ago | (#46523843)

The system is working to some extent, yes, it catches obvious fraud. I fear there are many more frauds that are not caught and lead to unreproducible results. I would not claim based on these catches that the system is "working well."

Re:Science, I think not (2)

Ol Olsoc (1175323) | about 6 months ago | (#46524197)

The system is working to some extent, yes, it catches obvious fraud. I fear there are many more frauds that are not caught and lead to unreproducible results. I would not claim based on these catches that the system is "working well."

Upon what do you base your fears?

Re:Science, I think not (1)

turning in circles (2882659) | about 6 months ago | (#46530663)

The Economist published an article last fall: Unreliable Research: Trouble at the Lab [economist.com] discussing that scientists may be looking at the wrong questions, and that well respected work may not be reproducible. I work at a university and to some extent, the new grad students reproduce the results that the senior grad students found en route to learning how to use the equipment, but it's not always that way.

Re:Science, I think not (4, Insightful)

serviscope_minor (664417) | about 6 months ago | (#46524353)

No, it's still working well.

If the fraud is in some boring, uninteresting area that never gets noticed, then it doesn't matter because it affects no one. If work is of interest to anyone else, it will get tested and eventually the truth will come out. If pointless work of interest to no one is never found out then ultimately it does not have much effect.

I'm not claiming the system is perfect, far from it, but the current one does a good enough job on getting to the truth of things that matter. What it does mean is you have to take obscure articles in obscure areas with a huge grain of salt. You have to do that anyway: even without fraud, many mistakes, biases in data, etc happen.

Re:Science, I think not (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 6 months ago | (#46527439)

" then it doesn't matter because it affects no one."
I wold of said:
" then it doesn't matter because it affects no one at the moment."

Say someone lied or made a mistake about a result based on an assumption. They could stop a whole field of research.

Re:Science, I think not (1)

serviscope_minor (664417) | about 6 months ago | (#46528969)

Say someone lied or made a mistake about a result based on an assumption. They could stop a whole field of research.

No, I disagree. There is no finalk word ever. If it "solves" the field and people try to make use of the result, they will find it is wrong and the truth will come out.

The thing is negative results don't get published, so there's never a fake "this doesn't work so don't bother" paper.

Re:Science, I think not (1)

turning in circles (2882659) | about 6 months ago | (#46530717)

I'm not sure that posting in prominent journals is quite the panacea you believe it is: there are still far more articles posted each year in Nature and Science than could be tested and verified by competent researchers. And surely you do not suggest we discount all science published in "obscure" areas? The science is not obscure to the ones who study it.

Re:Science, I think not (1)

multimediavt (965608) | about 6 months ago | (#46593107)

If the fraud is in some boring, uninteresting area that never gets noticed, then it doesn't matter because it affects no one.

Whoa, brakes! That's the victimless crime argument and there is no such thing. That's like saying if I steal apples from an orchard and nobody notices there is no crime. Bullshit. You're still committing a crime whether you get caught or not. It's ok if someone personally benefits from fraud in your world as long as it "affects no one"? Wrong. It affects the whole of the scientific community when someone publishes false results. It in fact affects everyone.

Re:Science, I think not (1)

Jmc23 (2353706) | about 6 months ago | (#46523849)

Now if they would only go after the fraud that spawned the birth of a billion dollar industry in eye-glasses.

Re:Science, I think not (1)

ThatsDrDangerToYou (3480047) | about 6 months ago | (#46523905)

.. and it's a good thing they've debunked all that global warming nonsense! (Joking! No really, not trolling.. it's a joke dear moderators.)

OK, now back to marketing my new cold fusion products. You can make them in your kitchen actually. I made $2794 last month marketing them online! Damn, you all are a lousy audience.. don't forget to tip your server.

Re:Science, I think not (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46523989)

When there is obvious chicanery involved and the experiments aren't reproducible, that is not science. Why does this story of science fiction get a science tag? It's not science if it's fake, folks. That's called fraud.

Because the fraud - if it was - was done in the name of science.

As a person of science, I am both angered by the apparent fraud, and very pleased that other scientists are going after the perps.

This is the system working, and it is working well.

Cold fusion, Piltdown man, recent anti-AGW work by shill organizations, and this. All frauds, all exposed.

In a science based system, with worldwide research, the truth will out itself.

Interesting that you just HAD to throw that in there.

This is a story about a concerted effort to reproduce an experiment, involving testing, that finally debunked the claims.

Whereas even voicing something as simple as mild skepticism over current AGW claims gets one labelled as a HERETIC^H^H^H^H^H^H^HDENIER!!!!!

Heaven forbid one should dare go so far as to state that AGW science should be, GASP!!!, reproducible.

Re:Science, I think not (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46527525)

You can measure the infrared absorbtion spectra yourself. It has been done multiple times.

Re:Science, I think not (1)

Oligonicella (659917) | about 6 months ago | (#46524017)

You neglected the fabrications of the pro-AGW factions.

Re:Science, I think not (3, Informative)

Ol Olsoc (1175323) | about 6 months ago | (#46524193)

Oh yes, I also forgot about the proof that Noah's Ark took place exactly as described in the Bible.

Give me the publicantions and research where Pro-AGW factions engaged in scientific fraud.

Since you said it, you must know the exact citations. Show the exact fraud.

Right?

Re:Science, I think not (1)

XxtraLarGe (551297) | about 6 months ago | (#46525207)

Give me the publicantions (sic) and research where Pro-AGW factions engaged in scientific fraud.

Well, this [theguardian.com] comes to mind. Why cover up the data? Maybe he was cleared of all wrong-doing, but this was one of the first hits when I searched for "Global Warming Fraud".

Re:Science, I think not (3, Informative)

hawkfish (8978) | about 6 months ago | (#46525813)

Give me the publicantions (sic) and research where Pro-AGW factions engaged in scientific fraud.

Well, this [theguardian.com] comes to mind. Why cover up the data? Maybe he was cleared of all wrong-doing, but this was one of the first hits when I searched for "Global Warming Fraud".

You typed something into Google and got hits. Wow, now that is deep research! Did you notice that at the top of your link was this [theguardian.com] ?

Re:Science, I think not (1)

narcc (412956) | about 6 months ago | (#46525985)

"You did a google search, therefore, you're wrong!" "You liked to a Guardian article, therefore, you're wrong!"

Re:Science, I think not (1)

Ol Olsoc (1175323) | about 6 months ago | (#46530795)

"You did a google search, therefore, you're wrong!" "You liked to a Guardian article, therefore, you're wrong!"

I guess that was sarcastic, so I'll reply as if it is.

Wrong? maybe. Lazy? Oh, most certainly. If that is all a person can come up with as proof of fraud, then what of the Retractionwatch website? All kinds of retractions of papers, for all kinds of reasons, including pro global warming papers.

But the matter of whether it measures up as fraud by the Guardian paper report is almost totally dependent upon a person's pro or anti AGW stance.

Read retraction watch, and then decide.

Re:Science, I think not (1)

Ol Olsoc (1175323) | about 6 months ago | (#46530777)

Give me the publicantions (sic) and research where Pro-AGW factions engaged in scientific fraud.

Well, this [theguardian.com] comes to mind. Why cover up the data? Maybe he was cleared of all wrong-doing, but this was one of the first hits when I searched for "Global Warming Fraud".

Okay, I read the report, and personally if that is fraud, then most everything is.

It boils down to a researcher was worried about some of the data. Then he was reluctant to release some of the data to a climate change "skeptic".

Okay, I hope that what you not are saying that this incident completely disproves AGW?

You need to go here. http://retractionwatch.com/ [retractionwatch.com] Lots and lots of retractions. And they have real ones, not just the ones that the press and the deniers orgasm over.

But there is a reason for that. Hackers that worked their way into emails, and cherry picking the data, and that is all they can come up with?

I suspsect the deniers would love to take down retraction watch, because of gems like this:

http://retractionwatch.com/201... [retractionwatch.com]

Don't worry though, because AGW deniers refuse to believe that the paper is not real and the honest truth. SO I guess they can still quote the retracted paper

Amazingly enough, Character assassination, the second tool of the deniers, has even had a "scientific paper put out. Oops, it was retracted.

http://retractionwatch.com/201... [retractionwatch.com]

Lest you believe this site deals only with anti-AGW papers being retracted, here is a case of a really bad AGW study

http://www.guardian.co.uk/envi... [guardian.co.uk]

Retracted, and rightfully so

This one was a bit less dumb:

http://retractionwatch.com/201... [retractionwatch.com]

However, here is the biggie:

http://retractionwatch.com/201... [retractionwatch.com] For those who don't read articles, the Journal, "Pattern Recognition in Physics", is a journal favored by climate change skeptics, And Published by Copernicus Publications. While th einitiators asserted that the aim of the journal was to publish articles about patterns in the full spectrum of physical disciplines, events proved otherwise.

In a special issue entitled "Pattern in Solar variability, their planetary origin, and terrestrial impacts, the paper authors cast doubt upon global warming.

Okay, so far, so good. But nothing gets published in scientific journals without review. The main page of that Retraction watch proves that. It's a matter of course. What we found out:

The "peer" review process was done on a nepotistic basis. Scientific publishing considers that as malpractice and unethical.

The writers plagiarized themselves. Always a trigger for retraction.

The editor in chief of the journal is employed by the Algerian Petroleum Institute.

Copernicous Publications has ceased publication of the journal.

Re:Science, I think not (1)

cheesybagel (670288) | about 6 months ago | (#46525547)

Removing data points that did not fit their model, apply transformations to the data points that are not uniform across the entire dataset, using a filter that generates the same output even if the input was noise. Need I go on?

As for Noah's Ark... that legend is enshrined in several mythologies including the Epic of Gilgamesh. There is also proof that there was substantial flooding in the area between the rivers Tigris and Euphrates so it could have well been one of those events. So the whole world didn't flood but it might as well represent a large flooding event in a given area of the globe.

People used to think Schliemann was nuts too then he found the ruins of Troy at Hisarlik. Fact is most legends have some basis on real historical events. Thing is since most of them were passed along orally for generations before being written down a lot of the information ends up getting distorted.

Re:Science, I think not (2)

hawkfish (8978) | about 6 months ago | (#46525781)

Removing data points that did not fit their model, apply transformations to the data points that are not uniform across the entire dataset, using a filter that generates the same output even if the input was noise. Need I go on?

Yes, because you are repeating hearsay. The GP requested citations. You have provided nothing.

Re:Science, I think not (1)

Ol Olsoc (1175323) | about 6 months ago | (#46531067)

Removing data points that did not fit their model, apply transformations to the data points that are not uniform across the entire dataset, using a filter that generates the same output even if the input was noise. Need I go on?

Yes, because you are repeating hearsay. The GP requested citations. You have provided nothing.

As the GP, I never expect any, because there isn't that much.

I could point out that there has been some suspect or even bad work on AGW. They might cite the study performed by a group in Argentina - The Universal Ecological Fund - was so bad and actually quite preposterous claiming that the planet would warm by 2.4 C - round 4.3 F. Interestingly enough, also from the Guardian.

http://www.theguardian.com/env... [theguardian.com]

Scientists were all over this study as just plain bad.

And most surprising that the deniers do not quote from the paper "Misdiagnosis of Surface Temeperature Feedback" by Spencer and Braswell.

http://www.mdpi.com/2072-4292/... [mdpi.com]

This is the touchstone for AGW deniers who love to claim that NASA's temperature figures are all wrong, and that more heat escapes from the atmosphere than predicted.

Their model had no realistic ocean, no El Niino, nor La Nina, and no hydrological cycle. And all the parameters could be adjusted to give an infinite number of "best fits" from CO2 insensitive to very sensitive.

Some critical reading on the matter:

http://bbickmore.wordpress.com... [wordpress.com]

http://www.realclimate.org/ind... [realclimate.org]

In the end, we can pick and choose. We can get our science teachings form Scientists, or we can get our science knowledge from politicians and religious leaders.

Re:Science, I think not (1, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | about 6 months ago | (#46527501)

"Removing data points that did not fit their model"
False.

", apply transformations to the data points that are not uniform across the entire dataset"
false.

" using a filter that generates the same output even if the input was noise."
false.

" Need I go on?"
Why, do you have actual data?

You know grabbing onto one headline, and then not following up on what happens and using the one deadline as some sort of proof only shows the worled you are an idiot.

As it turns out, it was a lot of nothing stirred up by Fox and once the truth came out that the media was lying and using it's ignorance as proof, no one mentioned it again.

You should follw up on that story.

here is an overview:
http://www.theguardian.com/env... [theguardian.com]

If you look you can get into the nitty gritty.
Her is hoping you can start to use your brain and change a narrative when the facts no longer fit it.

Douche bag.

Re:Science, I think not (1)

Ol Olsoc (1175323) | about 6 months ago | (#46530817)

Removing data points that did not fit their model, apply transformations to the data points that are not uniform across the entire dataset, using a filter that generates the same output even if the input was noise. Need I go on?

Yes. Who did it, and where are the papers? You folks make the accusations of fraud - I ask for specifics, and get exactly........ none.

If you cannot name the papers it is because you don't know the papers.

As for Noah's Ark... that legend is enshrined in several mythologies including the Epic of Gilgamesh. There is also proof that there was substantial flooding in the area between the rivers Tigris and Euphrates so it could have well been one of those events.

I was raised in a strict Catholic househole with even stricter Baptist Grandparents. They deny what you say. The story of Noah's ark is the written words of God, and the biblical truth is eternal and unchanging. Seriously - they belive that and with great faith.

People used to think Schliemann was nuts too then he found the ruins of Troy at Hisarlik.

You do realize that argument can be used against you. You and your ilk think that AGW scientists are frauds and perhaps crazy. People, you know, people.

Re:Science, I think not (1)

See Attached (1269764) | about 6 months ago | (#46524739)

The new genius is going to be separating Fact from Falsehood from Opinion.... Facts are shared absolutely. Falsehood is downplayed, and Opinion is held personal. Now... Legislation should be based on Only one... Facts .. shared realities ! Guidance can be offered for opnions?

Re:Science, I think not (1)

Gordon Smith (3584195) | about 6 months ago | (#46540275)

http://www.extremetech.com/ext... [extremetech.com]

If only NASA had consulted Slashdot instead... think of the research dollars they would have saved :-)

Re:Science, I think not (1)

multimediavt (965608) | about 6 months ago | (#46593229)

As a scientist you seem naive to the personal gains from the work that is done. This "scientist" fraudulently published results and gained public and private research dollars for it. That's a crime not science. You don't have to be a scientist to do good science but you do have to rigorously follow the scientific method. Clearly, the "scientist" in question needs to go back to school and learn that. Perhaps jail time will afford them the opportunity, because taking hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars to produce fraud is a crime NOT SCIENCE.

Re:Science, I think not (1)

GloomE (695185) | about 6 months ago | (#46523763)

Not reproducible? Of course not! The experiment doesn't work without a cold fusion power supply.

Re:Science, I think not (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46523835)

The original paper claimed that you could use any cell to get the special property that the embryonic researchers keep insisting is the reason they should keep getting the majority of the stem cell funding. Because the original claim would make stem cell research easier, multiple sets of grad students were assigned to replicate the results and bring in the new strains of research-grade stem cells. Only because every group of such grad students failed to reproduce the results has anyone started reading deeper.

The fact that this 'test and debunk' response is so rare is a serious problem. The problem has many factors feeding it, such as the 'publish or perish' dogma in research schools as well as the 'I'm a researcher, not a lecturer' mindset of enough university professors. Even if that Stanford Institute of Actually Testing Things stays pure to its goal and unaffected by politics (inter-university politics are my biggest concern, but any politicking will be a problem), it will not be able to make a significant dent in the massive pile of worthless 'discoveries' that have no basis in reality. Every school needs a retesting group.

Re:Science, I think not (4, Insightful)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about 6 months ago | (#46524007)

Because "chicanery" is not an absolute for one. I had to look up the definition "the use of trickery to achieve a political, financial, or legal purpose." You could argue that plagarizing text is trickery to get a thesis out and finished, sure. However, if Waseda is anything like my graduate school, background text on things like stem cells were of nearly zero importance. It doesn't sound like she faked any results in her thesis, which is the only part anyone cares about.

Here was my recipie for my thesis, approved by my thesis adviser and committee: Take two papers you've already published, staple them together. Write up a third part in case I hire someone to finish the stuff you didn't. Get signatures, the end.

Theses are treated with great esteem in other graduate programs. In science, or at least biology, no one gives a shit about them. My thesis adviser heavily scrutinized the two papers making up the main part of my thesis, they got peer reviewed, but the third part probably got skimmed only by my thesis adviser. Everyone else likely didn't even open the document aside from signing it.

This is not to say "plagiarism doesn't matter," or that it shouldn't be punished, just that labeling the STAP cells as bogus because of that is an overreaction. It should and IS factoring into skepticism about the results, and it should be and is a black mark on Obokata.

As far as reproducible, it's still early. It's only a few months old. The Knopfler blog [ipscell.com] is keeping track of some efforts that have failed, but if I recall, it took a year for induced pluripotent stem cells to be reproduced. The detailed protocol was released only two weeks ago [nature.com] .

At this point, you can conclude that Obokata should face consequences for plagiarism in her thesis, and that the "easy pluripotent stem cells" headlines were misleading. You can also conclude that more skepticism and scrutiny is merited, though skepticism should be and already was high given how important it is. It's far too early to conclude that it's outright fraud or not science. I've been somewhat following the controversy, there's no smoking gun on the actual science yet.

Lastly, remember that these are scientists, not PR experts, politicians, or celebrities. Obokata went into hiding after this blew up, I think people smelled blood in the water from that and assumed something fishy was up and not, say, that she was overwhelmed.

Re:Science, I think not (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46524163)

Lastly, remember that these are scientists, not PR experts, politicians, or celebrities. Obokata went into hiding after this blew up, I think people smelled blood in the water from that and assumed something fishy was up and not, say, that she was overwhelmed.

Every scientist these days is involved in PR, politics and celebrity. To suggest otherwise is absurd. How do you think they get their research money? By doing good science, and that only? Ha! (Though I wish it were that simple.)

Re:Science, I think not (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about 6 months ago | (#46524817)

Yeah, not the media storm that went on with this though. That's a bit like tossing a kid from swim class into the middle of the English channel. "You know how to doggy paddle! SWIM TO SHORE!"

Re:Science, I think not (1)

BobMcD (601576) | about 6 months ago | (#46524211)

Large parts of science are actually a cult/religion built up by the community, and discrediting one's findings by looking for plagiarism in a thesis is a symptom of that. If this were science for science's sake, your past would be completely irrelevant. Your pedigree would neither help nor harm you. Only your science would matter, and it would only matter when someone was able to reproduce your findings.

Instead we have a world where you can publish an article containing only gibberish. And not just once but over 120 times:

http://www.nature.com/news/pub... [nature.com]

Like any other community made up of humans, there are Emperor's Clothes, and the degree to which the importance of what scientists publish matters is just the tip of the iceberg.

Re:Science, I think not (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about 6 months ago | (#46524839)

I'm really not sure what your point is here.

Re:Science, I think not (2)

plopez (54068) | about 6 months ago | (#46524939)

Sloppy thesis. My thesis had to pass review of my entire committee. They would not sign it until they had a chance to read it. I had to go through several edit cycels *after* I had been through a number of cycles by my primary adviser. Maybe I picked a hard committee, but an adviser or committee member who puts their name to sloppy research is damaging their credibility. At the time I thought it was torture, but now I appreciate the fact they wanted me to produce good research properly written up. Any adviser or committee who does otherwise is cheating the student out of an education.

Re:Science, I think not (1)

multimediavt (965608) | about 6 months ago | (#46536453)

Sloppy thesis. My thesis had to pass review of my entire committee. They would not sign it until they had a chance to read it. I had to go through several edit cycels *after* I had been through a number of cycles by my primary adviser. Maybe I picked a hard committee, but an adviser or committee member who puts their name to sloppy research is damaging their credibility. At the time I thought it was torture, but now I appreciate the fact they wanted me to produce good research properly written up. Any adviser or committee who does otherwise is cheating the student out of an education.

You didn't pick a hard committee. You studied in a department that cared about the grad students they were sending into the world. The "Insightful" guy above obviously didn't.

Re: Science, I think not (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46525071)

Your program sounds pretty unfortunate. It isn't news that many people are not holding to high standards, but finding the lowest common denominator and creating a norm is not progressive.

A first chapter or so should be novel enough to be peer reviewed as a review article or interesting essay.

Re: Science, I think not (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about 6 months ago | (#46525369)

I said the first two chapters WERE peer reviewed. One was a review, the other was a normal article. Both were rigorously edited by my thesis adviser. They were both published before the thesis was put together, which might explain why the thesis was such a non-issue.

Re:Science, I think not (1)

lars_stefan_axelsson (236283) | about 6 months ago | (#46526641)

Because "chicanery" is not an absolute for one. I had to look up the definition "the use of trickery to achieve a political, financial, or legal purpose." You could argue that plagarizing text is trickery to get a thesis out and finished, sure. However, if Waseda is anything like my graduate school, background text on things like stem cells were of nearly zero importance. It doesn't sound like she faked any results in her thesis, which is the only part anyone cares about.

That's about right in CS as well. Sure you shouldn't out right plagiarise the introduction to your thesis, i.e. not cite and quote, but if you write something along the lines of "this presentation lends heavily on bla, bla and bla" and then summarise in your own words, nobody's going to get their knickers all in a twist. Not even a little bit.

It's your work that's important, and you better not have plagiarised that. But what comes in the introduction, i.e. background for the layperson (counting people in the same department, but different fields as a laypersons) doesn't make or break a career. It's the papers that were already published at another esteemed venue that counts, stupid.

So if she copied it outright from somewhere else and didn't say, that's bad, but not with a capital "B". It's a slap on the wrist that stings a bit and a "don't do that again." There's plenty of room between that kind of "misconduct" and pulling a Hendrik Schoen [wikipedia.org] , so lets keep our perspective here.

Re:Science, I think not (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | about 6 months ago | (#46557809)

Because "chicanery" is not an absolute for one. I had to look up the definition

What did you think it was, a vegetable?

It's not exactly an obscure word.

Re:Science, I think not (1)

multimediavt (965608) | about 6 months ago | (#46593163)

Ok, you obviously know very little about how academia works. If a researcher publishes something, they get credit for it and gain personally in many ways. They may receive an advanced degree and go out to a high paying job. They may gain greater academic standing by being promoted which brings money in the form of increased research and salary dollars. If that information is false then they personally gained by trickery and/or deceit. That's a crime. That's fraud and NOT SCIENCE.

Re:Science, I think not (0)

gstoddart (321705) | about 6 months ago | (#46524167)

Because it points to how little we can trust a lot of science because it's not being done by honest players.

It's also why a lot of people neither understand nor trust science any more, because a lot of it is fraudulent -- or at least enough of it to undermine confidence in it.

If the first 20 pages of your thesis have been cribbed from something else and nobody noticed it (and apparently never got reviewed by her own advisers) then academia and science has some big problems.

If high school students get their essays scanned for plagiarism, why the hell aren't doctoral theses?

Re:Science, I think not (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46524371)

If a piece of technology fails spectacularly, that's still Technology News.

Re:Science, I think not (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46524721)

When there is obvious chicanery involved and the experiments aren't reproducible, that is not science.

So anthropogenic global warming isn't science??

Re:Science, I think not (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46524887)

...the experiments aren't reproducible, that is not science.

You mean like evolution and the big bang chicanery? Thank yo for enlightening me...

Never understood this (1)

ThatsNotPudding (1045640) | about 6 months ago | (#46525543)

How the hell did they think they'd get away with lying about something that, if true, would be world-changing?

Re:Science, I think not (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46526633)

trade schools do not have this problem as they are not all full of use less theary you learn to wel'd or havc.
--
Joe_Dragon

Re:Science, I think not (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 6 months ago | (#46527223)

Because it's happening in the science field. Science is the proper tag.

If it seems to good to be true... (1)

Eunuchswear (210685) | about 6 months ago | (#46523663)

... it probably is too good to be true.

I have a friend in Minsk... (4, Funny)

Overzeetop (214511) | about 6 months ago | (#46523715)

Plagiarize,
Let no one else's work evade your eyes,
Remember why the good Lord made your eyes,
So don't shade your eyes,
But plagiarize, plagiarize, plagiarize...
Only be sure always to call it please, "research".

-T. Lehrer

Re:I have a friend in Minsk... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46523895)

"Every section I take from somewhere else; index I copy from old Vladivostok telephone directory"

"Could this get any stranger? Probably!" (2, Insightful)

rebelwarlock (1319465) | about 6 months ago | (#46523729)

It was never strange to begin with. Also, you sound like a twat. Stop that.

Excellent!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46523857)

Seems we have our next recruits for political office. If they can speak some German, even better.

I am always amazed how such people think they can get away with it. I mean, they are by no means the first. Which seems to be a prerequisite to holding some of the highest offices in politics and elswhere.

Motive? (2)

wcrowe (94389) | about 6 months ago | (#46523877)

I'm perplexed at the motive behind such shennanigans. What is to be gained? Grant money? But surely that's too short-lived to be worth it. Does it just boil down to laziness on the part of someone seeking a PhD?

I guess it's like embezzlement. You have to know, you're going to get caught eventually. There is no escaping it. But people do it anyway.

Re:Motive? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46523937)

It could also be the pressure to publish. Lots of scientists have 'performance' goals tied directly to their number of recently published articles.

Re:Motive? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46524071)

Modded parent comment up because the author is right, but wanted to add this: If you publish a paper, the chances of it being thoroughly taken apart and validated are very low - at least in the timeframe for grant application and approval. If a paper gets disproven once the funding is half-spent: big deal. If it gets taken apart years later (I'm looking at Andrew Wakefield and William McBride here) - big deal. Your career is over anyway.

This was unusual in that it was taken apart so quickly. Suggests to me that the authors were trying to game the system by betting on no external work being done and lost the bet.

Re:Motive? (4, Informative)

Marco Tedaldi (3390641) | about 6 months ago | (#46523977)

The Motive is clear: In today science landscape it's "publish or perish". And if you get published in Science, you're a big star. There are many many papers out there that are using fake data, plagiarizing stuff and so on. It's a game. If you get published, you have won the first round. Maybe someone is able to reproduce the work with some minor tweaks. Than, you're the hero and someone else did your work. And there is still the chance, that no one notices because they are ashamed, because they are ashamed, that they have not been able to reproduce your work. I boldly state that 5% to 10% of published results are not "clean" in one way or another! Only a small percentage of these papers will ever be found. And even after papers are found to be "flawed", sometimes the publisher does not retract it. And even retracted papers still collect citations. The scientific publication system is heavily messed up and play into the hands of a few big publishing houses and some crooks!

Re:Motive? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46525129)

I thought everything was peer reviewed and we could trust scientists? I guess they're like everyone else...

Re:Motive? (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 6 months ago | (#46527249)

Publishing also include experiments that fail.
In science, the second paper is the most important.

Re:Motive? (1)

Minwee (522556) | about 6 months ago | (#46526199)

I guess it's like embezzlement. You have to know, you're going to get caught eventually. There is no escaping it. But people do it anyway.

Let's step back and look at your logic for a moment. "I hear about a lot of people who have plagiarized. If I heard about them, then they must have done it. But every single person I hear about has gotten caught. Therefore, every person who has done it gets caught."

a) Where is the flaw in this argument (2 points)

b) With that in mind, what do you know about the number of plagiarists who are not caught? (3 points)

c) If the person sitting next to you hands in the same answer to this question, what does that mean? (5 points)

Re:Motive? (1)

wcrowe (94389) | about 6 months ago | (#46526953)

Moot questions. I wasn't talking about the plagiarism. I was talking about publishing results that cannot be duplicated.

Re:Motive? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46557759)

The original subject wasn't false accounting either. If it helps, tale Minwee's post and replace "plagiarism" with "eating boogers".

Welcome to the wonderful world of analogies, asshat.

Re:Motive? (1)

quantaman (517394) | about 6 months ago | (#46528883)

She probably wanted a job.

There's a lot more PhDs than academic jobs out there. A dissertation that doesn't add much probably leaves her working somewhere in industry or doing endless postdocs. On the other hand if she gets a couple big publications in Nature she's got a shot at an assistant professorship. Maybe some other groups find some tweaks to make the method work and she's the pioneer of a new field, or maybe everyone forgets about it but she still has a shot at making tenure. Or she was just trying to break through and didn't think it would make as big a splash as it did.

Re:Motive? (1)

cusco (717999) | about 6 months ago | (#46529425)

I'm wondering if the issue isn't poor documentation or unrealized interactions that actually made the original attempt succeed, but all subsequent attempts fail. If University A uses Acme brand petri dishes with microscopic ripples on the bottom and University B uses Corning Dow brand petri dishes with perfectly smooth bottoms then Uni B could fail if the ripples were necessary for some reason. It was over a decade until the US Navy was able to reproduce the original 'cold fusion' results consistently, because no one realized that the specific impurities in the original anodes were actually important.

College is a scam (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46523911)

College is a scam

Re: College is a scam (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46524053)

Collage of a scat.

Re: College is a scam (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46524147)

Collagen ass-cat.

Re: College is a scam (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46527659)

Call of Jen Askot.

"Could this get any stranger?" (2)

DeathToBill (601486) | about 6 months ago | (#46523917)

I dunno; put it in an acid bath and see what happens.

Fraud? Try Idiot. (2)

Parthraim (168893) | about 6 months ago | (#46523985)

I just can't imagine being dumb enough to do this. Firstly, you KNOW you plagiarized extensively, then you fake a GROUND BREAKING paper, and expect for people NOT to find out? I mean, I have some reservations about the validity and ultimate reproducibility of most academic science, but at least the frauds seem to produce papers about sexual habits of Argentinian tree frogs (really riveting stuff). Did this person really expect not to get caught when writing about the holy grail of stem cell research? Or perhaps the author thought that our current peer review system for science is really THAT broken?

Re:Fraud? Try Idiot. (2)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 6 months ago | (#46524049)

Exactly. Unless it's an experiment to see how well peer review works, putting it in Nature is pretty stupid. You're pretty much guaranteeing that people will try to reproduce your work and you'll be exposed. You can probably get away with it if you put it in a less prestigious journal, but if people start citing it then there's a good chance that someone will try to reproduce it, especially when the novelty of the article is that it's an easy way of doing a thing that loads of people want to do. And if it isn't read and cited enough that people want to reproduce it, it's pretty worthless (from a research career perspective) as a publication...

Re:Fraud? Try Idiot. (1)

iksbob (947407) | about 6 months ago | (#46524669)

Which makes it all the stranger. High-profile area of research, likely to be checked, major journal... It's like a checklist of ways to get caught. The tinfoil hat region of my brain makes me wonder if the research is genuine, but other researchers are refuting it out of fear that the funding for their own research will be cut. After all, who needs an expensive, complex (and patented) method of creating stem cells when a cheap and easy solution produces similar (or superior) results?

Re:Fraud? Try Idiot. (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 6 months ago | (#46527277)

" After all, who needs an expensive, complex (and patented) method of creating stem cells when a cheap and easy solution produces similar (or superior) results?"
every other company, person,country that doesn't hold the patent.

If you have an expensive patent, why would I cover up research that would mean I could stop paying you money for licensing?

Re:Fraud? Try Idiot. (1)

gregor-e (136142) | about 6 months ago | (#46529865)

So it must be time to crank up the conspiracy theories.
Which is more (un)likely:
  1. Someone would attempt to perpetrate such a huge and obvious falsehood
  2. Vested powers, on hearing their castle is about to crumble, vigorously attempt to discredit the new theory
  3. Big money who is outside the potential profit sphere of this discovery is attempting to delay it long enough to get a slight variation patented

Re:Fraud? Try Idiot. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46525069)

A lazy idiot. The first 20 pages were copied because it was introductory material that would at best be skimmed over by any reviewer.

Re:Fraud? Try Idiot. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46525765)

Has happen before. Jan Hendrik Schön almost won the Nobel prize in physics with all his research being complete bull

Honor (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46524001)

Fraud in science is unacceptabru. The researchers who torerated this shamefur vioration to do the honorabre act and commit sepukku. The integrity and honorabre name of sciensu must be preserved.

momkind (r)evolutionary dna final author of us (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46524081)

being released in the wild since before we can know about?.?. no gargoylian gadgeteers required. as close to perfection as ever we need be... another universal newclear options advance,, thanks again moms

Fraud is not novelty, catching fraud is... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46524489)

Your one is clearly an idiot, but an idiot that grew too confident of her own deceiving ways.

Fraud is rampant in academia for a number of reasons: grants, status, promotions, more grants But give it enough time and the truth eventually surface. Did you forget Jan Hendrik Schön [wikipedia.org] ? Sure there a many others, Ministers, head of AIDS research groups, you name it

Unfortunately the people that should protect the system (or who are responsible for the system), the gate keepers, they are also milking it. A number of Lecturers and Professors, who should be scrutinizing the submitted thesis, don’t bother really bother doing so. They sit on their titles and collect their fat cheques at the end of each year, congratulating each other.

Luckily plagiarism checkers are getting better and better. So, hopefully in the future all thesis will mandatorily be checked by a machine prior to submission. Why not check all previously submitted thesis? I’d say the world of PHD holders would shrink drastically.

If it's a "strikingly simple method" it should (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46524869)

have taken 3 days instead of 3 month to reattempt and discredit upon failure.

Very strange indeed! (1)

ilsaloving (1534307) | about 6 months ago | (#46524923)

The summary answered it's own question for once!

There's another option here... (1)

Kaitiff (167826) | about 6 months ago | (#46525211)

If someone published something that would upset the applecart so to speak, what better way to discredit and marginalize their efforts than to cast aspersions and draw attention away from the actual science and off to some scandalous allegation. Has anyone bothered to double check the accusations yet? A method of creating pluripotent stem cells like this could seriously derail research already underway and redundant if it were true, and that sounds like a very strong motive to call into question the original findings in an effort to keep grant money's.

Re:There's another option here... (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 6 months ago | (#46527313)

See, it's weak thinkers like you self that get caught up in conspiracy nonsense and the spread it like a plague.

"A method of creating pluripotent stem cells like this could seriously derail research already underway"

So? that happens in science pretty often.

" and redundant if it were true"
nope. Just becasue they found one way, it would be years before it could be practical, and other avenues of research could also reveal better results.

You overlook the much more money, and many more people, who would benefit and profit from this.

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