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Panel To Investigate Scientist For Cloning Claims

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the did-he-or-didn't-he dept.

Science 117

collegetoad writes "A panel of scientists from the Seoul National University will investigate scientist Hwang Woo-suk on whether he committed fraud in claiming he had developed tailored embryonic stem cells. From the article: 'Hwang also said in a paper published in 2004 in the journal Nature, that he had cloned, for the first time, a human cell to provide a source of embryonic stem cells -- master cells that can provide a source of any type of tissue or cell in the body.'" We've reported on this previously.

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117 comments

Take their word for it (-1, Offtopic)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 8 years ago | (#14410445)


From a press conference this morning in Seoul the following quotes:
"There is no truth to the charges of fake stem cell research and cloning," said Hwang Woo-suk
"There is no truth to the charges of fake stem cell research and cloning," said Foo Bee-bletch
"There is no truth to the charges of fake stem cell research and cloning," said Park Yur-car
"There is no truth to the charges of fake stem cell research and cloning," said Yang Kees-suk
"There is no truth to the charges of fake stem cell research and cloning," said Wun Hung-lo
"There is no truth to the charges of fake stem cell research and cloning," said Sum Yung-gai

Re:Take their word for it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14412205)

No witty italicized afterthought?

Cloning Clams? (-1, Offtopic)

User 956 (568564) | more than 8 years ago | (#14410453)

I think Scientology's got Clam cloning [xenu.net] already worked out.

The benefits being..? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14410454)

Why bother investigating?

Anything this guy has ever written should be trashed.

Re:The benefits being..? (5, Informative)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 8 years ago | (#14410500)

Why bother investigating? Anything this guy has ever written should be trashed.

What worries me most is anything he has said or done which casts doubt on his work or credibility will be ruthlessly employed by the opponents of Stem Cell Research, which will be of no actual good service to anymone except on a dogmatic approach.

And then they will go on to assert that their word is beyond reproach.

Re:The benefits being..? (1)

c_forq (924234) | more than 8 years ago | (#14411031)

I would like to note that there is a difference between those opposed to stem cell research and embryonic stem cell research. For example I am against embryonic stem cell research, as I see the stem cells found in umbilical cords to have much more potential while not carrying any of the morality questions.

Re:The benefits being..? (1)

optimus10 (943834) | more than 8 years ago | (#14411438)

how differentiated are umbilical stem cells? are they totipotent like embryonics? or are they erythropoietic stem cells since they are from cord blood? obviously, the best solution to all of this is research in de-differentiation of eryhtropoietic stem cells into totipotent cells.

Re:The benefits being..? (3, Informative)

c_forq (924234) | more than 8 years ago | (#14411670)

They are more devolped then embryonic, which is a good and bad thing (they can't become anything at this point, but that is partially good as embryonic cells can easily become tumors). They have proven useful in blood and marrow operations, and have started to show promise in other areas.
Linky:
http://times.hankooki.com/lpage/200411/kt200411261 7575710440.htm [hankooki.com]

Re:The benefits being..? (1)

optimus10 (943834) | more than 8 years ago | (#14411766)

but the true promise of stem cells is directed differentiation. applications that come to mind include organ replication, neurogenesis and treatment of neurodegenerative afflictions, mimicking the natural differentiation process of stem cells to regenerate cells perfectly matched to a patient. this isnt quite possible with erythropoietics. while a good start, they aren't the most promising horizon. after all, if we perfect messing with totipotents, we can generate multipotent erythropoietic cells for some applications to solve the tumor issue.

Re:The benefits being..? (5, Insightful)

vertinox (846076) | more than 8 years ago | (#14410601)

Why bother investigating?

Anything this guy has ever written should be trashed.


The same could be said about Dr. Josef Mengele [wikipedia.org] who commited far worse atrocities against humanity, but some of the kwoledged gain by his gruesome work is still used today in medical schools albeit as mear reference to the insides of a living being.

One can acheive those kind of things when you are doing live vivisections on human beings.

To throw away knowledge even if it was gained through horrible acts is almost as bad of a sin by trying not to better the world and correct wrongs with that knowledge. Its almost as if you declare those who were damned to this cruel fate, that their suffering and loss means nothing to the living and you are going to throw them away to the trash dump of history without trying to save another human life.

Re:The benefits being..? (1)

jank1887 (815982) | more than 8 years ago | (#14411747)

True, it's wrong to bury the knowledge. But also wrong is how the knowledge was gained in the first place. Thus, the ethical response would be: maintain the knowledge, but do not repeat the practice in an attempt to gain more knowledge, as the gain in knowlegde does not justify further human atrocity.

Now, Mengele's human atrocities are a far cry from sumbitting fraudulent data/results, but some with ethical objections to embryonic stem cell research could argue that his falsifications facilitate what they characterize as a humanitarian atrocity. But, being that steps A and B in that sequence are clearly delineated, no, his publications which are found to be valid should be left as is.

Woo... (1, Funny)

goombah99 (560566) | more than 8 years ago | (#14410918)

Woo...It's gonna Suk Huang to be in his shoes. Okay bad puns , Juvenile. (But on slashdot those get positive mod points!)

Re:Woo... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14413032)

Who hopes he'll be sent to a prison where he'll be forced to Suk Hwang?

I do.

Sarbanes Oxley? (4, Interesting)

Doomedsnowball (921841) | more than 8 years ago | (#14410483)

Is this the Enron of Biomed research? Do we need better accounting (of data and methods) like Sarbanes-Oxley? Just a thought.

Re:Sarbanes Oxley? (4, Interesting)

drewzhrodague (606182) | more than 8 years ago | (#14410566)

No. Science takes care of its own, in its own way. THis is what peer review is for. Watch! They will get to the bottom of the dispute, scientifically, and then we will see what is really there, and what is bogus. Someone's got a tagline, about having a stable society when someone guns-down a schoolyard, and the laws don't change. Same kinda thing here, laws shouldn't even be involved, as their methodology will tell all -- eventually.

Re:Sarbanes Oxley? (1, Troll)

MOBE2001 (263700) | more than 8 years ago | (#14410982)

Science takes care of its own, in its own way. THis is what peer review is for.

Obviously peer review has failed in this case. He was able to publish his crap in reputable science journals for years and peer review never caught on. One wonders how much more crap is making it past peer review. I suspect a lot. Peer review seems to be a good old boy mechanism used by the scientific community to keep itself above public scrutiny and checks and balances. Science is now no better than a guild looking out for its own self interest and profit.

Luckily, thanks to the internet, we are seeing a trend toward democracy in every field of human knowledge: Wikipedia, digg, etc... Hopefully, scientific knowledge dissemination and creation will be democratized as well. After all, it's the public's money who pays for it all.

Re:Sarbanes Oxley? (1)

saider (177166) | more than 8 years ago | (#14411071)

How do peers review it if it isn't published?

Just because you are published does not mean that your idea is undisputed truth. Getting into the journal is not the be-all and end-all of science. Your ideas must stand the test of time, and time alone will fetter out the bad ideas.

This case is a perfect example of the scientific process self-correcting.

Not so perfect example (1, Informative)

brianerst (549609) | more than 8 years ago | (#14411525)

Given the facts of the matter, this isn't "a perfect example of the scientific process self-correcting". This was a fraud that was largely investigated outside the scientific process and then unravelled from within.

Self-correction would have entailed either the peer reviewers of Science noticing such "small" things as duplicated picutures (which, when pointed out, the editors of Science claimed was a production error, when in fact it was a purposeful fraud conducted by a junior researcher at the direction of Hwang) or the co-author of the paper (who, being on a separate continent and at a different university, cannot be seriously excused as being intimidated by Hwang) doing more than rubber stamping Hwang's "work". There were no prominent stories of biologists who were questioning the results prior to the exposure of the fraud. As the each piece of the fraud unravelled, the editors of Science engaged in a series of "yes, buts..." that would acknowledge now indisputable problems while categorically stating that the remainder of the article stood. After all, it had been peer-reviewed!

It was largely Korean television and newspapers that "corrected" the science involved here. They uncovered the ethical problems first of paying for eggs, then eggs "willingly" harvested from younger female subordinates of Hwang, then the coercive nature of those "willing" donations, the duplicated photos and the rest of the sordid mess. It wasn't until more junior researchers started to confess to reporters the scale of the fraud that the scientific community really started to get in front of this - and that largely in an ass-covering way by the University.

What fascinates me about all this is the "shock, shock" that Hwang could have done this. I think most people, regardless of where they stand on the ethics or morality of embryonic stem cell research, understand that there are at least some ethical dilemmas posed by the research (if only at the "where are they going to get all those eggs" level). The only people I've seen who are adamant that there are no such ethical issues to consider have been some of the scientists performing these experiments. Why, then, is it such a shock that people who are seemingly unconcerned about the ethical issues involved in their work might be similarly ethically challenged in the work itself? Certainly, the vast majority of such researchers are honest and decent. You are also going to attract some more unsavory characters like Hwang who broke every ethical rule he came into contact with in order to achieve prestige and national glory.

Politicized science (and it is politicized on both sides) requires even more scrutiny than normal. Unfortunately, when the scientific establishment (including journals) are nearly uniformly on one side of the debate, most of the policing of that side is going to come from outside the scientific community. The process of science will not in these cases be self-correcting. Hopefully, in the end, the science itself will be correct.

Re:Sarbanes Oxley? (1)

lgw (121541) | more than 8 years ago | (#14411332)

You misunderstand peer review. Getting published is not peer review - it just means your research wasn't bad in some obvious way (no faulty logic in your reasoning, no obviously bad methodologies used, etc.). Getting published doesn't mean that *anyone* in the scientific community, including yourself, necessarily believes what you've published is true.

When you publish, and your critics say "that can't be possible and I'll prove it", and go on to reproduce your results, *then* you have credibility.

Re:Sarbanes Oxley? (2, Insightful)

ScrappyLaptop (733753) | more than 8 years ago | (#14412591)

I wonder just how much results reproduction is actually done today.

Let's face it, much of what individual research teams do is patented. The object of (most) research is to find something which can be patented and then sold by or licensed by the party that funds the research. Reproducing someone else's results is therefore a waste of research money. Even without the threat of patent infringement, duplicating someone else's work doesn't make money for anyone...

Please, keep in mind that I still believe in "pure" research and those who practice the same. Heck, I even appreciate anyone that works long hours and makes our world a better place. I just don't think that many labs that answer to a corporation can claim those attributes.

Re:Sarbanes Oxley? (1)

lgw (121541) | more than 8 years ago | (#14412958)

It depends on the field. In fields such as research biochem, where it's all about the patents, you're quite right, and the journals are *bad*. There was a /.-linked article last year claiming the accuracy rate of the data in journals was down to below 50% (mostly in area of methods to synthesize compounds). It was pretty clear there are groups somewhere publishing to meet salary review goals knowing full well their work is sloppy (or even deliberately padding work they did with an equal amount of work they made up).

AFAIK, that problem is limited to highly commercial fields and "implementation" papers, however. Research that takes an entire field in a new direction still gets reviewed well, as almost everyone is a skeptic when most of what they know stands to be invalidated!

The rush for patents is certainly hurting the process, but I doubt that problem will last more than a few decades. The fad will pass.

peer review is more than that (4, Interesting)

Quadraginta (902985) | more than 8 years ago | (#14411387)

First of all, peer review functions in many places besides vetting articles for publication. Indeed, it's much more important in reviewing grant applications and in how and whether your colleagues direct good students and post-docs your way, since while publications are nice, it's successfully attracting research money and recruiting good employees that really counts. This guy is getting that kind of peer review now -- and greatly to his harm. So indeed the system is functioning as designed.

More importantly, if you're saying the system is busted because it must sometimes punish fraud after it's published, instead of preventing its publication entirely -- well, then perhaps something needs to be clarified about the nature of scientific publication. A scientific journal is not a textbook. Stuff published there is current research, not accepted wisdom. It's not meant to be archival quality, things that folks will stake a reputation on. It's meant to be the "bleeding edge" of knowledge, so to speak, the latest and (necessarily) shakiest bit of possible insight. Reasonable people expect much that is published in a journal to turn out to be wrong, or incomplete. They don't ordinarily expect it to be a fraud, but it does happen on occasion, and reasonable people keep that in the back of their minds, too.

In fact, one of the main reasons for scientific publication is to present new ideas and data to the widest possible audience, so that people who don't know, fund, or work for the original researcher have a chance to consider the merits and drawbacks of the idea, test it, challenge it, and prove or disprove it. You might reasonably think of scientific publication as more or less a "debugging" step of a new scientific idea, the process by which you submit some newfangled notion to the rigours of a bunch of "beta testers" (other scientists) who will bang on the idea, make sure it's sound.

You would not, I hope, conclude that because spectacular bugs are sometimes found in software at the "beta" stage this means that the authors were wrong to release it at all. Having a large community of interested expert users cooperate in beta testing your software -- think open-source software -- can speed up the process of producing quality products greatly. That's exactly how scientific publication works.

Re:peer review is more than that (1)

RacerZero (848545) | more than 8 years ago | (#14411730)

Stuff published there is current research, not accepted wisdom. It's not meant to be archival quality, things that folks will stake a reputation on. It's meant to be the "bleeding edge" of knowledge, so to speak, the latest and (necessarily) shakiest bit of possible insight. Reasonable people expect much that is published in a journal to turn out to be wrong, or incomplete.

I would agree that articles in scientific journals should be expected to be possibly wrong but that isn't the case these days. In particular the Media takes anything in a "Peer Reviewed" mag as the gospel truth. Things like this incident, secondhand smoke and global warming never seem to get the kind of scrutiny you are talking about. Particularly when they fit a social agenda.

Re:peer review is more than that (1)

morgoiss (784829) | more than 8 years ago | (#14412014)

Actually, the editor of Science has said that as a co-author of a paper you do stake your reputation on your publications. Not that they are the final word on understanding something, but that what you said is honest. That is what science and scientific publications are about: stating what you have done, and what you interpret it to mean. That doesn't mean your interpretation will hold the test of time, but it does mean that you have been completely honest about what you did, and your explanations, even if they prove to be incomplete or incorrect. That is where Hwang Woo-suk went wrong: he lied about what he did. But he was apparently "smart" enough to do it elaborately and consistently enough that it could slip by peer review. Peer review does not consider that what you say "may be incorrect" in the sense that it can automatically detect you lying about what you did, but it does accept that what you say about it may not be the final explanation. Scientific publication does not, however, generally work on the assumption that it is a series of experiments to be tested. Rather, the experiments are assumed to be correct, and the testing that goes on is not so much of a check as it is people's efforts to build upon what you did. This is because scientists are assumed to be honest about what they did (in this case the scientists were not), and so these follow-up experiments are not really beta-testing, they are instead done by people who want to extend the published work, and to push it farther, rather than to beat it to death (although this often happens, it is not the driving force). They are not testing what you did as much as your explanation and interpretation of the data, as well as trying to push it farther.

I don't quite agree (4, Insightful)

Quadraginta (902985) | more than 8 years ago | (#14413009)

I don't think so. Let me tell you from 15 years of publishing in scientific journals, and reviewing the proposed publications of others, that there is no clear and sharp division between an "honest" mistake and a mistake into which you are led by bias, preconceived notions, or your personal feelings for another scientist whose work you are challenging or confirming. Scientists are human beings as much as the next person. Very few will deliberately and with malice aforethought falsify data. But plenty will talk themselves into believing that a certain dubious "correction" of the data makes sense.

It's a lot like high-school chemistry lab, in which (if you were decently smart), you knew what the results of the lab should be. Does that affect the way in which you write down the data? You bet. You do the experiment once, and you get a result you "know" is crazy. So you say: "That can't be right, something must have gone wrong..." and you do it again. If you get the result you expect, then you tend to just write it down uncritically.

Just expand that typical human behaviour to much more complex experiments, and you'll see what I mean. Grown-up scientists do an experiment, and they get a result that "can't be right," so they do it again until they get a result that "seems right," or they talk themselves into some kind of data analysis that "corrects" the raw data. Have a look here [caltech.edu] (warning: PDF link) for an interesting discussion of the case or Robert Millikan, who "framed a guilty man", in the phrase made immortal by the LAPD, by falsely presenting experiments that led to a correct scientific conclusion.

The long and short of it is that the question of the "honesty" of the author of a publication is very much a gray area, and anyone who seriously just assumes that all the data from an experiment have been presented, and all the data analysis has been done in completely neutral way, without any influence of preconceived notions, is a fool. You must assume that the personal predispositions of the scientist doing the work had some influence on the experimental data reported. This isn't meant to be pejorative -- I'm not saying you assume other scientists are routinely dishonest. You just assume they're human, and may have fooled themselves or have a bit of an agenda when they present their data, and you take that into account. Healthy skepticism is the order of the day. That's why we like to see even experiments that seem completely unexceptional and from scientists of unimpeachable reputations repeated several times by a broad range of other workers before we accept them.

I certainly agree deliberate fraud is way out of any "gray area" about the motivations of the scientist submitting articles for publication. (And that's why the punishment for doing so is far, far harsher than for simply making an "honest" mistake, or even a mistake into which you are led by bias or incompetence.) But there is no way one can, or should, draw a sharp line between completely unconscious error and semi-conscious half-deliberate fudge, and it would be a great error for anyone to blindly assume that the data in any scientific publication is beyond question.

Re:Sarbanes Oxley? (1)

sabot99 (828715) | more than 8 years ago | (#14411165)

Actually, peer review is NOT very good at picking up premeditated, deliberate fraud by the submitting scientist. A good peer reviewer may notice inconsistencies that may require further investigation, but if the author really wants to fool the journal, they can. Even in this case, when a reviewer requested additional data, more fraudulent data was provided.

Unfortunately, what may be the long-term result is an unofficial embargo against Korean papers by the more prestigous journals. Journals receive papers with fantastic claims and conclusions all of the time, but unless the author is a well-known scientist, or from a well known lab or institution, these manuscripts get pitched.

Even today, journal editors are skeptical of papers from Russia or mainland China, not to mention countries with lesser scientific reputations. Decades ago, Japanese labs were in a similar position until they whipped themselves into shape.

Journals may now be thinking: if the highest-profile, best-funded lab in South Korea can't be trusted, and other Korean scientists couldn't be objective enough to detect such blatant fraud, why should we trust anything from that country?

Legislatures? (2, Interesting)

IAAP (937607) | more than 8 years ago | (#14410621)

Are you saying that you want the Legislature to get involved? The most science illiterate group on the planet?! Or, President Bush? Mr. Global Warming isn't fact guy?

Hopefully (4, Interesting)

vertinox (846076) | more than 8 years ago | (#14410486)

Hopefully the panel will go out and actually try to reproduce his results rather than having a political debate of whether not it is.

His business ethics are questionable, but if there is some truth to this then they should be able to follow a scientific method in order to prove or disprove the falsification of the findings.

Re:Hopefully (2, Informative)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 8 years ago | (#14410538)

Hopefully the panel will go out and actually try to reproduce his results rather than having a political debate of whether not it is. His business ethics are questionable, but if there is some truth to this then they should be able to follow a scientific method in order to prove or disprove the falsification of the findings.

2 cents, take at face value: South Korea has a significant Christian population, no idea on how conservative their leanings and what affiliation there may be to those of extreme Right To Life pursuasion. Source: CIA World Factbook [cia.gov]

Re:Hopefully (1)

User 956 (568564) | more than 8 years ago | (#14410548)

Hopefully the panel will go out and actually try to reproduce his results

Yeah, but then we'll end up with another panel to investigate this panel's cloned cloning claim results. Where will it all end?

Re:Hopefully (1)

Kesch (943326) | more than 8 years ago | (#14410964)

Where will it all end?

It doesn't. Welcome to the scientific method. As long as someone is doubtful, they are free to try to disprvoe the results. Although I assume any further investigations will not get any press.

Re:Hopefully (1)

shotfeel (235240) | more than 8 years ago | (#14410593)

There are (and have been) research teams across the globe trying to do just that -reproduce the results. That's a vital part of science research.

What this team is doing (if I understand correctly) is going through his lab's actual raw data to see if they have actually done the expreiments and collected the data presented.

Another real bummer about the whole fiasco (if the results are falsified) is that the researchers I alluded to in the first paragraph may have transferred resources being used to develop other methods in order to try to reproduce the "successful" method given. A lot of (potentially) wasted time, effort and $$$.

No (4, Informative)

everphilski (877346) | more than 8 years ago | (#14410607)

Hopefully the panel will go out and actually try to reproduce his results rather than having a political debate of whether not it is.

No. FTA: it would issue its final findings next week ... doubt they are going to raise stem cell lines from human tissue in a week...

-everphilski-

Re:Hopefully (4, Informative)

deacon (40533) | more than 8 years ago | (#14411003)

This whole story is old news by now.

First, the data is know to be fake. From this link:

http://news.pajamasmedia.com/world/2005/12/15/6683 762_Doctor_Cloning_P.shtml [pajamasmedia.com]

Roh also told MBC television that Hwang had pressured a former scientist at his lab to fake data to make it look like there were 11 stem cell colonies.

In a separate report, a former researcher told MBC that Hwang ordered him to fabricate photos to make it appear there were 11 separate colonies from only three.

"This is something I shouldn't have done," said the researcher, who was identified only by his last name, Kim, and whose face was not shown. "I had no choice but to do it."

Second, from this link:

http://science.monstersandcritics.com/news/article _1073161.php/Disgraced_Korean_cloning_pioneer_pres sured_woman_colleague [monstersandcritics.com]

It quoted the woman as saying she felt 'forced' to donate egg cells, having been told that if she did not do so her name would be removed from a research document published in 2004.

I hardly need to make editorial comment on these facts. Those without ethics will continue to insist nothing is wrong. Those of us with ethics shudder with revultion and hope the guy never works in a postition of authority again.

Re:Hopefully (0, Troll)

ArsonSmith (13997) | more than 8 years ago | (#14411254)

If I ever met him, I'd be like "Whang Woo-Suk, you're Wrong! You suck."

Then I'd stomp off and feel satisfied.

This is not what we need now (5, Insightful)

Schezar (249629) | more than 8 years ago | (#14410511)

Anti-intellectualism is seeing a renaissance, and this will only serve as "evidence" for those who decry science, deny logic, and advocate flim-flam. Despite the fact that I see this as proof that the scientific method works (they've rooted out phony research), those with other agendas will cling to it as proof that "those scientists in their ivory towers" are wrong.

Homeopaths, naturalists, new-age healers, dowsers, reflexologists, chiropractors, feng shui "experts," et all: they use any slip of a scientist to bolster their support from those who don't know better. It saddens me, but such is the nature of the game.

Real scientists need to stand up and denounce frauds loudly and strongly whenever they appear. Too many otherwise learned men stand idly by while charlatans ply their wares to the unsuspecting.

Re:This is not what we need now (3, Insightful)

dada21 (163177) | more than 8 years ago | (#14410648)

I'm not sure I agree with what you posted.

First, I know my parents trusted scientists when they said carbs were good, margarine was good and butter was bad. The homeopaths were crying foul from day one, and have been decrying the previous Food Pyramid for years. Now it seems the natural foods freaks were right/

Second, I know that scientists are just humans like you and I -- their income depends on being right more than being wrong. Cooked books would seem to be the norm, especially when public money is at stake. Remember the second hand smoke lies that were found wrong by the Supreme Court but are still being used today to ban smoking in restaurants? These were honored and respected scientists funded by public dollars -- and they lied [newmediaexplorer.org] .

I'm guessing you'd call for licensing for scientists -- so we end up with the same high costs and low quality service we get in any licensed industry. I'm glad we have the "whack-jobs" of alternative medicine. I may not agree with what they have to say, but I know I want to see private industry competition to what is quickly becoming a public industry: science and the politicing that comes along with public funding of it.

The luddites aren't about debate. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14410677)

They'll take runs at sophistry, but in the scheme of things they are short lived. Once upon a time, Christianity was not just against surgery (partly because of a dubious success rate) but against healing. Not only was it a violation of the body, the sacred vessel of the soul, but it was a contrivance interfering with God's plan. Notice how they changed their tune when success for even audacious medical, man-made, miricales became almost routine? Even the Popes artificially extend their lives through the might of Man's contrivances.

Recent advances are hinting at a new future, perhaps at the end of my life time, where most serious diseases are well in hand. If you're fortunate enough to live in an industrialized country and have a sufficent fortune, of course. As much as they profess a desire to witness The Rapture, leaving their cares and clothes behind for the naked party in the sky, they will find the reality of rotting, slowling, painfully, avoidibly, away as distasteful as any other organism compelled to even mild opportunism. When it comes to push or shove, the occasional pious individuals who have more faith than hypocirsy seem to us as unimaginable monsters. So rare are the committed anti-intellectuals. The apathetic are more numerous, and they are the true threat.

Re:This is not what we need now (1)

IAAP (937607) | more than 8 years ago | (#14410678)

You reminded me of a friend of mine. He's an engineer and his wife believes in that New Age stuff. She brings up the "scientific proof" of the "healing crystals" and other things she has. The "scientific proof" could be any bastardization of science. I remember one add the talked about the "Tachion particles" that is emmitted by their product. Anyway, it's kind of funny (and sad) to watch him squirm when she talks about those things. He used to argue, but she would just jump all over him - verbally.

Re:This is not what we need now (1)

Quadraginta (902985) | more than 8 years ago | (#14411516)

Well, one can feel for the poor woman. Maybe she feels there's no way she can ever win a rational argument with her husband, since he's got all the goods (the training, the experience, perhaps the bulk of the intelligence). Since people hate to feel completely outclassed, when they're in a situation like this, often enough they'll invoke some kind of mystical Dr. McCoy "there are some things logic can't explain" type of argument, something which by definition isn't subject to rational examination. Game over, I win, ha ha.

Best to recognize this when you see it as fast as possible, and just disengage. Can't do that when you're married to the person, however. Oh well. There are more reasons than mere dorkiness for the proverbial loneliness of the hyperrational male engineer.

Re:This is not what we need now (3, Funny)

Thunderstruck (210399) | more than 8 years ago | (#14410681)

Homeopaths, naturalists, new-age healers, dowsers, reflexologists, chiropractors, feng shui "experts," et all: they use any slip of a scientist to bolster their support from those who don't know better. It saddens me, but such is the nature of the game.

All of these folks are vitaly important. Lets see if I can address them in turn*:

1. Homeopaths - sexual orientation has not been proven to affect scientific ability.

2. Naturalists - These are people who run around without clothes, right? Whats not fun about that?

3. New-age Healers - Because after a year or two, the bottom of my shoe really needs to be replaced.

4. Dowsers - I didn't get any money for marrying my wife, but if this practice is going to see a return, I can't complain.

5. Reflexologists - These folks are a must, how else will we be able to develop the weapons we need to fight the Zentradi?

6. Chiropractors - A good chiropractor sometimes costs less than a massage therapist, both give good back-rubs. Competition is good, we need Chiropractors.

7. Feng Shui Experts - This is perhaps the most important of all, it helps keep my wife from re-arranging the furniture. "But honey, they HAVE to be arranged that way."

Re:This is not what we need now (1)

chrismcdirty (677039) | more than 8 years ago | (#14410807)

7. Feng Shui Experts - This is perhaps the most important of all, it helps keep my wife from re-arranging the furniture. "But honey, they HAVE to be arranged that way."

They also help bring me more money and rare items while playing Animal Crossing.

Re:This is not what we need now (2, Insightful)

Kesch (943326) | more than 8 years ago | (#14411145)

Actually Douglas Adams has a great essay where he discusses the possibility that man has created God in a sense.

In there, he lights upon Feng Shui. He admits that he doesn't know much about Feung Shui, but states that humans can perform complex tasks without knowing the underlying calculations.

For instance(and this is my own presentation of an argument originally presented by Adams), if you throw a ball at me I can whip out physics 101, perform some calculations, and in a minute, tell you where the ball is going to go. However, not needing a minute, I can judge where the ball is going to go and put my hand exactely in that spot(Ok, I can't do this, but normal people can). Feng Shui has some of these principles that humans instinctevly know how to make a good living space without complex architectural formulas.

I'm not endorsing all crack-pot solutions, nor am I even endorsing Feng Shui. Also, I cannot say that all the mehtods in a discipline are budding bits of human psyche. (For instance, I think that even if humans had a rudimentary "water sense", forked sticks would not amplify it. I think the sticks are half show, half superstition, and I don't relly believe in dowsing to begin with). Still, don't just blow off the unscientific methods, even though the scientific method is more reliable.

Re:This is not what we need now (1)

Billosaur (927319) | more than 8 years ago | (#14410689)

Real scientists need to stand up and denounce frauds loudly and strongly whenever they appear. Too many otherwise learned men stand idly by while charlatans ply their wares to the unsuspecting.

But just suppose the Seoul National University panel completes their investigation and it turns out he did what he said he did, then what? It's very easy to describe a scientist as a charlatan, but the jury is still out, and in this case it is a jury of his peers. Others will perform the same expeiments and try to verify his results. In the end, even if he is found to have done what he claimed, his reputation is now stained.

Remember, even Galileo "recanted" to save his skin from persecution by the Roman Catholic church, but that does not diminish what he accomplished.

Christ... Do People Read The Articles?? (1)

Black-Man (198831) | more than 8 years ago | (#14410913)

Damn man. The co-authors of the paper have already come forth saying the guy fabricated the research. The one guy from the University of Pittsburgh said the guy just used his name on the paper - without any consultation!

Re:Christ... Do People Read The Articles?? (1)

Billosaur (927319) | more than 8 years ago | (#14411042)

Maybe so, but fabricated data doesn't necessarily mean that the process he used to achieve his previous results were not sound. He may have messed up his technique or missed crucial signs that things weren't exactly right. Point being, it's easy to take all this as given based on the words of others, but until the process is peer-reviewed and confirmed not to yield the results he said he got, I'm not making any judgements.

Re:This is not what we need now (1)

ishpeck (160581) | more than 8 years ago | (#14410693)

Real scientists need to stand up and denounce frauds loudly and strongly whenever they appear. Too many otherwise learned men stand idly by while charlatans ply their wares to the unsuspecting.

There is no way to stop people from committing fraud. There is, however, a way to teach everyone else to be more skeptical and analytical so they aren't deceived by fraudulent folks. Deceit will abound forever -- but it need not succeed.

Re:This is not what we need now (1)

susano_otter (123650) | more than 8 years ago | (#14411767)

It sounds you're saying that the intellectual community has far too many charlatans, and far too many honest scientists who refuse to step up and expose the frauds.

I don't know about you, but if 10% of plumbers were charlatans, 80% of plumbers were honest folk who kept their mouths shut while their colleagues ripped me off, and 10% were honest folk who spoke out bout the fraud and abuse, I'd feel pretty well justified in having an anti-plumber attitude.

If the intellectual community is in as bad a shape as you imply, then anti-intellectualism is the only healthy course of action for society to take. If the majority of scientists are either con men or cowards, then what attitude am I supposed to have towards them?

I mean, it's not like you'd encourage me to trust Catholic priests these days, would you?

Re:This is not what we need now (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14411837)

I agree with you 100% regarding your main points.

But as an odd aside related to dowsing.

I have done it. It works. I do not know why, or how. I am as big a skeptic as you will ever find, and I was teasing a cousin of mine about this foolish "witching" as he called it. He had finished building a new house a year previous, and the landscaping had not been done yet. I had never been to the property before, and had never been inside the house. He said he was going to try to map out where his buried phone, cable, and gas lines were so he could get on with the landscaping, but that he wasn't very good at witching. I laughed and laughed. He gave me the rods, and said "Here you try it, it doesn't work for everyone, and it works much better for some than for others, but try". I laughed and laughed. I made jokes, I teased.

I walked around his property and mapped every fuckin buried line and cable on his property, as he laughed and laughed. I had no idea where anything was, no idea where the TV was, no idea where the kitchen was, no reference points to taint my view as to where the lines should be. To top it all off, I didn't think it would work, nor did I want it to work. My natural bias would be to force failure, not success. Very strange indeed. My brother tried, and it did not work. I was 100% correct, even where lines had been routed around buried boulders.

Imagine, it would be like a scientist coming face to face with the flying spaghetti monster, or one of his noodely appendages.

Re:This is not what we need now (1)

dmccarty (152630) | more than 8 years ago | (#14411956)

Despite the fact that I see this as proof that the scientific method works (they've rooted out phony research)

This scientific method works, but not because of the reason you gave. The scientific method works because one scientist's experimental results should be reproducible by other scientists.

In this case Dr. Hwang's research wasn't debunked by experimentation, but by his own co-authors who basically said that he just lied and made up stuff.

Re:This is not what we need now (1)

1800maxim (702377) | more than 8 years ago | (#14412421)

Maybe i didn't catch your point, but what is your beef with chiropractors?

You can either take tylenol/advil for back pain relief, or visit the chirpractor (if the cause is physiological, located in the muscles of the back).

You can even be your own chiropractor by doing various exercises to put your back in order/better shape.

Chiropractic is a pseudoscientific SCAM (1)

Schezar (249629) | more than 8 years ago | (#14413014)

Quackwatch [quackwatch.org]
Professor Protests [sptimes.com]
Warning Signs of Chiropractic foolery [your-doctor.com]
Wikipedia Article [wikipedia.org]

Chiropractic is pseudoscientific horseshit. While it's true that some chiropractors are merely back massagers, the majority believe in the strange teachings of their school. Some excerpts:

"Chiropractic was founded in 1895 by Daniel David Palmer, a grocer and "magnetic healer" who believed that all diseases are the result of misplaced spinal bones. According to his theory, "subluxations" (misalignment) of spinal vertebrae cause disease by interfering with the flow of "nerve energy" from the brain to the body's tissue cells. Spinal "adjustments," by restoring vertebrae to their "proper places," allow brain energy to heal the diseased condition."

"Nerve conduction studies of human spinal nerves identified as being subluxed by chiropractors were shown to be normal by conventional scientific measures. Studies involving X-ray and CT scanning of the human spine before and after chiropractic manipulation show no changes in joint position as identified by radiologists."

"Aside from placebo effect chiropractic therapy has never been shown to treat any condition other than musculoskeletal problems."

Chiropractic has never been shown to have ANY verifiable effect on ANY condition. Not only is it useless, it can often be dangerous. In fact, if you can find a chiropractor who can provide actual evidence of the practice's efficacy, or even of a simple "subluxation," you'll be eligible for the JREF [randi.org] 's One Million Dollar award.

Penn and Teller did a succinct expose on the dangers of chiropractic on their show "Bullshit."

Why? (4, Insightful)

geneing (756949) | more than 8 years ago | (#14410525)

There were several cases recently when high profile research results turned out to be fraudulent. What I can't understand is what were the authors thinking... Yes, it is possible to get a fraudulent paper accepted, but immediately dozens of other labs will be trying to reproduce the results and discover the fraud.

I can believe that a third-rate paper published in a third-rate journal will not get much scrutiny from other researchers. However, these guys reported major results that many other labs were trying to achieve. What were they thinking?

To get one more paper published... (1)

IAAP (937607) | more than 8 years ago | (#14410699)

before review time?

I'm not an academic, so I don't know. I'd be interested how professors are reviewed on the "publish or perish" rule.

Publish or Perish (1)

jgrana (931567) | more than 8 years ago | (#14411088)

The "publish or perish" rule itself doesn't get directly reviewed by a university. It's more of a matter of how much research that's being published and, in turn, how much grant money they're bringing into the university. If you're sitting on the same work for 10 years without any journal articles or anything to show for it, you're probably not bringing in too many grants. However, a lab that's publishing a lot is generally always working on a grant proposal for the next followup piece of work. Thus, it's bringing in a lot more money than one who's not publishing much. Labs and professors live and die by the amount of money they have to fund their research, so that's really the heart of the "publish or perish" rule.

Re:Why? (1)

gid13 (620803) | more than 8 years ago | (#14410712)

I'm not usually much for conspiracy theories, but this one seems as likely as they come to me. Let's look at the evidence:

1. As you say, what motive would he have to fake it? He HAS to know that others are going to try to reproduce it and crucify him for it.
2. He claimed that he was the victim of a long-planned conspiracy.
3. Cloning is probably one of the technologies that someone has a vested interest in keeping nonexistent, or just to themselves.

But then again, academics are crazy, who knows.

Re:Why? (1)

Spy Handler (822350) | more than 8 years ago | (#14411601)

Apparently this guy really believed that what he was claiming was possible. He probably thought that since there are hundreds of labs around the world doing the same thing, surely one of them will get the desired result soon, and he will get credit as the 1st one to do it.

Re:Why? (1)

serutan (259622) | more than 8 years ago | (#14411665)

these guys reported major results that many other labs were trying to achieve. What were they thinking?

That was my first reaction. How could somebody intelligent enough to be working in this field in the first place think he could get away with reporting bogus results? There were the earlier allegations of pressuring a research assistant to donate human eggs, and then this. I'm not entirely sure what to believe.

One more way ... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14410568)

One more way in which it Suks to be Woo.

Intellectualism fraud? (2, Interesting)

dada21 (163177) | more than 8 years ago | (#14410584)

A few weeks ago I posted a question on slashdot regarding scientists and ethics and was completely chewed out for it. It was NOT meant to be a troll, it was an honest question.

I've had some time to rethink the question and instead of finding answers (via Google as well as talking to scientists via e-mail who read my initial question), I have more questions.

I'm a free market guy -- I truly believe that everyone performs actions that help themselves first (and others, secondly, if they want to continue doing what they do). I believe we take jobs in order to pay our bills, and we do our jobs with the consideration of what will keep us employed, and what will give us bigger financial opportunities in the future. I believe that employers are the customers of employees, and that is how I judge employer-employee relations.

Scientists are starting to scare me. Many scientists find funding through government or taxpayer-funded programs and grants. Are we dealing with the same quality of people who review and allow frivolous patents and lawsuits to be enforced? Will we start seeing more scientists under review for doing what we all do in our jobs -- try and find ways to increase our pay while keeping our work the same (or lower).

In the past there was peer review, but when we involve public funds, I fear what I saw in my consulting business: many consultants bidding on public jobs in a "boat race" -- 5 or 6 state-licensed consultants allowing each other to win a bid in a round robin fashion. I don't do any state jobs because of the collusion I saw in my industries.

When I decry public funding of science, I'm blasted because people say that the free market won't pay for certain research. Now I see a more evil side of it -- and I fear that we'll see more investigations like this if I'm right. What can we do to combat humanity's deep need for self preservation in a scientist having the same human drives, especially when it is funded straight out of our pocket involuntarily?

Re:Intellectualism fraud? (2, Insightful)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 8 years ago | (#14410695)

"What can we do to combat humanity's deep need for self preservation in a scientist having the same human drives, especially when it is funded straight out of our pocket involuntarily?"

Exactly what we are doing now, peer review. You think he's going to get a good research job anywhere, now? It's hurt him in his wallet/pride/etc, and that is an incentive for self-interested scientists not to game the system with fraudulent results.

That, and to take everything with a grain of salt. Science news didn't used to be widely publicized until it was at least partly vetted, so people tend to have faith in widely-publicized findings. We just have to relearn healthy scepticism, and maybe do a little better vetting before publication in journals.

Besides, I'd hazard a guess that the vast majority of research scientists truly do want to find the answer(s).

Re:Public vs Private Funding (4, Insightful)

vertinox (846076) | more than 8 years ago | (#14410775)

When I decry public funding of science, I'm blasted because people say that the free market won't pay for certain research. Now I see a more evil side of it -- and I fear that we'll see more investigations like this if I'm right. What can we do to combat humanity's deep need for self preservation in a scientist having the same human drives, especially when it is funded straight out of our pocket involuntarily?

There can be two sides to this issue.

1. If the research is funded with government money, it can be influenced by politics.
2. If the research is funded with private money, it can be influenced by its investors.

Think of it like a global warming research sponsored by a congressman who is lobbied by an oil company vs a TCO of Windows vs Linux research sponsored by Microsoft.

Both could have potential bias and complications.

Personally, I believe both private and public research can be beneficial. Take DARPA for example. I for one believe DARPA is the shining example of public research gone right. It is backed by public money, but often uses the private sector as a major part of its research. Take the recent Grand Challenge [darpa.mil] for example.

So I think there is a place for public funding at least to get the ground work. After all, the Manhattan and Apollo Project were publicly funded.

However, if you believe government funded projects are a waste of your tax money, then you can do what I do... Donate to a private non-profit research group that is tax deductible. I realized if I donate enough money to either Wikipedia [wikimediafoundation.org] or the Singularity Institute [singularitychallenge.com] I could just write off all my taxes next year. Even though I don't get more money than I would have not donating, it means the IRS will have to give me a larger refund, hence putting my money where I want it to go and not where a congressman does.

Re:Public vs Private Funding (1)

dada21 (163177) | more than 8 years ago | (#14410857)

Great post, but one caveat for readers of the free market variety: DARPA is no winning public research wing.

DARPA was the branch behind the TIA -- Total Information Awareness campaign. The "D" in DARPA standards for defense.

DARPA's was recently run by Poindexter, the guy behind the Iran-Contra conspiracy.

DARPA's in involved with spying of US citizens in programs such as "Combat Zones That See" and other "analyzers."

DAPRA works with private industry to bring us such wonderful programs as Project Genoa.

I wouldn't call DAPRA a success for freedom and prosperity.

Re:Public vs Private Funding (1)

Ohreally_factor (593551) | more than 8 years ago | (#14411896)

DARPA also played a pivotal role in the early formation of what we now know as the internet. Many features that we consider hallmarks of the internet (decentralisation, routing around damage) are due to the military nature of DARPA's specs.

Just saying.

You might want to take your taxes to an accountant (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14410862)

You don't deduct donations to non-profits from your taxes owed, but from your total income. Unless your donations put you into the "Earned Income" tax bracket, it's unlikely you are doing your taxes correctly.

Re:You might want to take your taxes to an account (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14411143)

You don't deduct donations to non-profits from your taxes owed, but from your total income. Unless your donations put you into the "Earned Income" tax bracket, it's unlikely you are doing your taxes correctly.

Oh I know that, and I can't avoid my city or state taxes via this method either nor can I avoid paying social security, medicare, or the original amount taxed, but it does put me in a lower income bracket which means less money to the government and hence a larger refund check from the money that I have already paid the IRS.

Technically, I still end up with the same amount of money, its just that its put into things I support directly.

Re:Intellectualism fraud? (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 8 years ago | (#14410871)

"Scientists are starting to scare me."
of course they do, manyu of them do things to help the public, even at the expense of making more money, and this goes against your principle of " I truly believe that everyone performs actions that help themselves first".

Of course, thats taement has NOTHING to do with free market, but hey, your an idiot.
Here is an example of your idiocy:

"Many scientists find funding through government or taxpayer-funded programs and grants. Are we dealing with the same quality of people who review and allow frivolous patents and lawsuits to be enforced?"

Patent clerks and scientists are not the same thing. Not even close. Why would you even post that. oh wait:
"Will we start seeing more scientists under review for doing what we all do in our jobs -- try and find ways to increase our pay while keeping our work the same (or lower)."

It was a set up to make a strawman statement.

"In the past there was peer review, but when we involve public funds, I fear what I saw in my consulting business: many consultants bidding on public jobs in a "boat race" -- 5 or 6 state-licensed consultants allowing each other to win a bid in a round robin fashion. I don't do any state jobs because of the collusion I saw in my industries."
again, not the same thing.
Also, I would like to see some proof of this boat race, becasue of someone who has done state consulting, and as someone who now works for the state, I have never seen such a thing.

the fact that there was such an issue, and it is being looked into is a good thing.
Unlike free market corporations that get away with anything they want, and justify it as saying "We can make more money"

Re:Intellectualism fraud? (1)

Bucc5062 (856482) | more than 8 years ago | (#14410942)

I'm a free market guy -- I truly believe that everyone performs actions that help themselves first (and others, secondly, if they want to continue doing what they do).

Could that be said to those who volunteer their time to help others? Would Mother Teresa fall under this conjecture? I feel that there is a subtle issue with that perspective. Of course we are all in the business of self-preservation, but the problem with a free market is that is only self-serving without consideration for the greater society for which it operates in. I do not like the term "free-market" for there is nothing free about it. This market is not even free of basic rules or regulation that serve to limit the excess that can occur when 'haves' take from 'have nots'. Perhaps a better term is capitalistic market since the purpose of a market is to increase capital.

I believe we take jobs in order to pay our bills, and we do our jobs with the consideration of what will keep us employed, and what will give us bigger financial opportunities in the future

Perhaps I'm on the fringe, but I have always tended to think of work first as a way to extend my creativity, to learn, to be and feel productive in a positive way. I very much appreciate that I get a paycheck for the work I provide, but it is less the focus of my satifaction then whether I work for a good team, a competent boss, a cool project, or a decent company. I found my passion in computers early and was able to make a living at it. To take your statement literally then any job would do in order to pay the bills. I feel people first find work in something that gives them pleasure, satifaction, and compensation. It is only in critical moments when the "any thing to pay the bills" mentality takes over. I worked some odd jobs when I was downsized for two years, because I still needed to maintain my fiscal responsibilities. Those jobs did not make me want to grow in them since I never wanted a career in those fields. Given the choice today, I would rather start my own business in sailboat charters then work in the computer field. Not because I want to pay the bills, but that sailing is my deeper passion even more then computers and it would be great to sailm, show people the wonders of sailing and make money doing it*. As to 'bigger financial opportunities', having tried to create the best quality products and seeing mediocrity get moved up the ladder I can understand how easy it is for some to start to give up on doing their best. Though my heart still believes the adage "Work hard and you will be rewarded" the mind and the eyes see a different picture.

I believe that employers are the customers of employees, and that is how I judge employer-employee relations.

That is 100% spot on. It is a symbiotic relationship between the two and yet time and time again the Employer part shits on its self by shitting on the employee. There are sadly few examples today that show what happens when employers make an effort to provide a productive working environment for the employee. The results tend to be one where work quality increases, product quality increases, customer satifactions rises and even an increase in profit. The problem is that you need well trained managers, executive that can see beyond the next quarterly report, and a society mindset that refuses to accept the lowest goods and service.

I know my comments are off topic to human cloning, but your comments struck a cord with me.


* I have a Masters USCG Capt License, I did try, but backing is hard to come by compared to "safe" business start-ups like dot comms or Dunkin Donuts.

Re:Intellectualism fraud? (1)

dada21 (163177) | more than 8 years ago | (#14411062)

Could that be said to those who volunteer their time to help others? Would Mother Teresa fall under this conjecture? I feel that there is a subtle issue with that perspective.

Mother Teresa profited from her volunteerism: she gained the light of God from it. This was a personal feeling, no matter what anyone said. She was most happy helping the suffering -- would she do it if she didn't find a profit, even a spiritual one?

Of course we are all in the business of self-preservation, but the problem with a free market is that is only self-serving without consideration for the greater society for which it operates in.

That is completely wrong. In the free market, we address what is best for us now and in the long run, and make our decisions for actions based on both. The long run means how our customers will feel about our product/service after the fact. No one is completely self-involved except for the insane. Every action in a market considers the long run, or that action will have a negative reaction for the performer.

This market is not even free of basic rules or regulation that serve to limit the excess that can occur when 'haves' take from 'have nots'. Perhaps a better term is capitalistic market since the purpose of a market is to increase capital.

Actually, once you incorporate any regulation or taxation or licensing scheme into a market, it is no longer capitalism, it is merchantilism (preferential treatment of the cronies, in all reality). The free market means free to act based on one's self interest. Look at it this way: when you buy a banana, you profit along with the grocer. He gains a buck, you gain a banana. You both gained more than you gave up.

very much appreciate that I get a paycheck for the work I provide, but it is less the focus of my satifaction then whether I work for a good team, a competent boss, a cool project, or a decent company.

Because you know you'll stay happy in the future -- still a profit. Happiness is a big profit motive.

I worked some odd jobs when I was downsized for two years, because I still needed to maintain my fiscal responsibilities. Those jobs did not make me want to grow in them since I never wanted a career in those fields.

So you accepted a lower happiness profit just so your financial profit would stay stable until you could find a job with a good financial and emotional profit level.

The problem is that you need well trained managers, executive that can see beyond the next quarterly report, and a society mindset that refuses to accept the lowest goods and service.

Sure do, and the employers who want the brightest futures make these decisions. Companies that don't care about the long run don't last.

Great post, sorry to everyone for continuing the OT.

Re:Intellectualism fraud? (1)

Loopster (469166) | more than 8 years ago | (#14410946)

When I decry public funding of science, I'm blasted because people say that the free market won't pay for certain research. Now I see a more evil side of it -- and I fear that we'll see more investigations like this if I'm right. What can we do to combat humanity's deep need for self preservation in a scientist having the same human drives, especially when it is funded straight out of our pocket involuntarily?

As a practicing scientist, I can tell you that while the self preservation instinct will tend to make you take less chances and do more "conservative" science, it does not lead you to start lying and fabricating results.

Why?

From your "market values perspective": this (lying) is a path that leads to growing if not spectacular decay of your reputation and eventually a serious loss of credibility (and thus no more research grant approval, which is under peer review as well.) Yes, cronyism happens, but if your work is poor, you will cease to be supported in the long term. This is fair enough for those who require assitance with their moral compass.

From another perspective: most scientists go into science because they value the rewards of the honest intellectual experience it provides. Not because they want to make a buck. They need to put food on the table like everybody else, but, fortunately, lying and cheating are not required to maintain this level.

I'm a free market guy -- I truly believe that everyone performs actions that help themselves first (and others, secondly, if they want to continue doing what they do).

Does this mean you sell out your friends, family, spouse, values for the right price? This scares me.

Re:Intellectualism fraud? (1)

dada21 (163177) | more than 8 years ago | (#14411018)

As a practicing scientist, I can tell you that while the self preservation instinct will tend to make you take less chances and do more "conservative" science, it does not lead you to start lying and fabricating results.

I agree with you in a free market -- competition tends to push out the bad seeds. But in a public forum, where it is nearly impossible to fire teachers, policemen and departmental workers, will bad scientists who are publicly funded also be hard to nix?

Yes, cronyism happens, but if your work is poor, you will cease to be supported in the long term. This is fair enough for those who require assitance with their moral compass.

Judging from the quality of teachers and workers at the local DMV, I tend to disagree. In my business we can fire someone for bad work, but I constantly see the same foul workers in the public forum. I'm just concerned about that part -- public funding of scientists. If all science went to public funding, would they fink on each other or prop each other up?

Does this mean you sell out your friends, family, spouse, values for the right price? This scares me.

Of cousre I do -- so does everyone. At some point in time we all say "I have to work harder right now in order to put food on the table, so I'll be unable to spend time with my family/go to church/etc etc" It isn't undermining one's values, it is seeing where one is needed most, and looking at the future based on two different decisions.

They need to put food on the table like everybody else, but, fortunately, lying and cheating are not required to maintain this level.

I hope you're right. I just know that as we start funding more market needs through the taxpayer's pocket, we're seeing lower quality service. Look at the emergency rooms in hospitals -- when hospitals were forced by law to treat everyone regardless of ability to pay, the service deteriorated. I would never go to an emergency room. My lady's best friend works for a huge hospital, her son broke his wrist and she actually waited for a clinic visit over the ER based on her experiences. Stories like this can be told ad infinitum.

Re:Intellectualism fraud? (1)

Loopster (469166) | more than 8 years ago | (#14411383)

I'm afraid you seriously fail to appreciate the competitive nature of science. It is a star system something akin to what you see in Hollywood. But you don't get kudos for acting ability or charisma, but from the ideas, observations, and results that you present to the community that resonate. Your reputation will drive the amount of resouces allocated to you. I'm talking about $5e6 to $1e8 type grants collected by true players.

I suppose at the lower college levels,university levels, and in government labs there is some deadwood. But these people absorb practically none of the serious public funding of science, and they tend to still provide reasonable administrative and teaching services.

I would also mention that the *consumer* can get pretty low service from "free market" forces, just like governments can provide poor service to tax payers. Competing proprietary standards comes to mind, leading to either incompatibility or monopoly.

Re:Intellectualism fraud? (1)

rootedgimp (523254) | more than 8 years ago | (#14410995)

Scientists are starting to scare me. Many scientists find funding through government or taxpayer-funded programs and grants. Are we dealing with the same quality of people who review and allow frivolous patents and lawsuits to be enforced? Will we start seeing more scientists under review for doing what we all do in our jobs -- try and find ways to increase our pay while keeping our work the same (or lower).
When I decry public funding of science, I'm blasted because people say that the free market won't pay for certain research [...] What can we do to combat humanity's deep need for self preservation in a scientist having the same human drives, especially when it is funded straight out of our pocket involuntarily?


In a perfect world: *ALL* scientists would be completely impartial to the results of their findings, and completely honest (as to keep from swaying the minds of non-scientists into believing something that simply isn't true.)
In a perfect world: *ALL* police would be looking to serve the best interests of the public they protect, and would show no leniency to those who break the law (also, in the said perfect world, all the laws would be worth upholding. blunt, anyone?)
In a perfect world: *ALL* politicians would be honest. there would be an enforced accountability to the people they 'represent'.

do you see where this is going? WHY do people hold scientists to a standard that would be (and IS) considered preposterous to hold other *HUMANS* to?? EVERYONE is dishonest, EVERYONE has an agenda (usually money.), EVERYONE has special interests.

I can almost see the look on your face.. You are thinking to yourself 'wow, this idiot totally missed the point of what my post was about.' no, I didn't.
Are we dealing with the same quality of people who review and allow frivolous patents and lawsuits to be enforced?
YES! WE ARE! THEY ARE CALLED HUMANS. STOP expecting a double standard between scientists and 'citizens'. You will ALWAYS find mixtures of decent, honest people in a much outweighed ratio with lying, backstabbing, climb-my-way-to-the-top types. It just so happens, for the most part, the scientific community (as well as the world) became flooded with the latter.

Re:Intellectualism fraud? (1)

dada21 (163177) | more than 8 years ago | (#14411100)

Actually, you make one big mistake that really makes your entire rant against me sort of invalid:

STOP expecting a double standard between scientists and 'citizens'.

I never made a double standard between scientists and citizens. I compare and contract public workers for private workers. Public workers to me are becoming less and less human as I interact more with them. They know they're powerful, they know they're hard to fire, and they take advantage of it in subpar products and services created.

Then you take this incorrect viewpoint of my opinion and extend it:

You will ALWAYS find mixtures of decent, honest people in a much outweighed ratio with lying, backstabbing, climb-my-way-to-the-top types. It just so happens, for the most part, the scientific community (as well as the world) became flooded with the latter.

It is when I deal with the publicly-funded worker that I find the worst liars, backstabbers and climb-their-way-to-the-top types. The scientific community recently found more money in taxpayer grants, is it any wonder that we're seeing more lying, backstabing, climb-their-way-to-the-top scientists lately?

Re:Intellectualism fraud? (1)

optimus10 (943834) | more than 8 years ago | (#14411402)

You will ALWAYS find mixtures of decent, honest people in a much outweighed ratio with lying, backstabbing, climb-my-way-to-the-top types. It just so happens, for the most part, the scientific community (as well as the world) became flooded with the latter.
wow, someone's been taking their pessimism supplements. let's have some proof. as far as i'm concerned, the bad eggs are few and far between. for every example of your latter population of backstabbers, i'm sure you can name 10 decent, hard-working people. i know i can. in science too. wouldnt be such an interesting story if they were reporting "hey this biologist passaged some cells correctly"

Its working now.... (1)

everphilski (877346) | more than 8 years ago | (#14410996)

It is easy to point out the one or two frauds that exist, and then draw conclusions from your own personal experiance. But the system works (I know ... I live in it)

Its called peer review. You do work. You publish to a credible journal (emphasis on credible). Editors read your submission and assuming you haven't done something stupid (depending on the journal - some excellent journals will deny good papers) your paper will probably get past them. If you f*ed up, you get caught - someone reads your paper and discovers you did it wrong, gravity vector pointing in the wrong direction for instance, the results were too good, etc.

For example the UAH Propulsion Research Center [uah.edu] gets over a million a year from NASA and other government/corporate sources for research work. Results get published and reviewed. That research keeps a lot of students in grad school and gets a lot of work done for NASA. (Hint: grad students work cheaper than professional engineers). Not to mention there are few private citizens/small companies that truly want to innovate propulsion. Including the new space startups. They are mostly re-hashing old ideas.

I do research for UAH - same principles apply. I've published two papers (only one [aiaa.org] citation available online at the moment) and have spoken at two conferences attended by my peers. I also publish reports to the army - since they are the primary customer. People can attend those conferences and pay attention to speakers to review their results, and read papers in journals to critique their analysis. If they have further questions you generally have contact information on the paper (at least in my field).

That's the way the system works. And it works pretty well, except when you fake results in a controversial topic of study. Then you become a hot topic.

-everphilski-

Re:Intellectualism fraud? (1)

thechao (466986) | more than 8 years ago | (#14411102)

There's no more fraud now than in the past; it's simply media hype. Anyone who has ever done review, participated in a review, or simply reviewed the literature, will commonly find `bad` science; it's normally self-evident. Fraudulent science is even worse, but tends to be exposed (eventually or immediately) due to the nature of scientific inquiry.

Peer review is our best attempt, and I would say it works far better than patent-review, but the comparison is hardly fair. Peer review tends to be by other scientists who are also "expert" in the same field. Patent review is, at best, by an amateur or at best a novice in the field.

Now to your last point; I have worked with a large number of academic scientists, and (to my everlasting misery) a number of coporate scientists all working with government money. The corporations were ... not run with the best interest of the public. I would also say that it is the rare company that supports "pure" research; probably about as likely as corporations are to fund the Arts (and with probably similar economics).

Re:Intellectualism fraud? (2, Insightful)

optimus10 (943834) | more than 8 years ago | (#14411277)

In regards to your free-market approach towards people and employment, I think it is a flawed assumption. I may have some bias, being a scientist (and biologist) myself, so take everything I say with an appropriate sized grain of salt. That said, I believe that science is one of many professions where you must have motivation beyond money and personal advancement to make a career. Going the route of a PhD in any field is not a walk in the park, nor is it the most financially rewarding route. I can't count the number of times I could've taken a sweet computer programming position in industry and been extremely comfortable in life compared to my current starving student existence as a doctoral candidate. But I could never imagine myself in any field other than science and being able to goto work daily with as clear a moral conscience and purpose in life as I have now. The system of peer review in place reviewing government funded grants is much more developed than the collusory and corrupt system you picture. The study sections that are responsible for reviewing NIH grant applications are diverse and their composition varies annually. There is no small council of elite scientists that has the final say on all government funded grants in science. That being said, there is influence of politics within the field (personal rivalries etc), but those sorts of biases are not easy to translate into denying funding. There must always be valid scientific analysis supporting any grant's funding decision. The influence of politics is heavy at the top (ie- the overall NIH budget), but as far as individual grants, the influence of traditional partisan politics is not direct. That decision is solely left to the scientists. The selection process for career scientists, at least in the US, begins far before you get to this stage of your career. Peer review and criticism of your rigorousness as a scientist is constantly evaluated beginning for all career scientists as they enter grad school, and often even in undergraduate education. You undergo the scrutiny of a multitude of people who impact your career's development, many if not most of whom have strong ideological views on science and protect the field by upholding high standards for a scientist's motivations. The survival approach to the career is most often unsuccessful and results in a student either dropping out or being failed out. I guess in the end, I'm just trying to say that the picture is extremely complicated, and that the scientific community has put many precautions into place to uphold the integrity of individuals in the field. The scandal surrounding Prof Hwang is disappointing, but hardly representative of the state of the field as a whole. And lets not overlook the fact that it takes a talented and dedicated individual to fabricate scientific data. As for the official word on the scandal: "Hwang admitted on 16 December that there were errors in the 2005 stem-cell paper, but denied fraud. He maintains that 11 patient-specific stem-cell lines were created as reported, but six were never frozen, and subsequently became contaminated. He says five lines being thawed now will prove his success." Nature 438, 1056-1057 (22 December 2005) Let's just wait and see what happens with that.

Re:Intellectualism fraud? (1)

m0nstr42 (914269) | more than 8 years ago | (#14411360)

You're right. There is room for reform, but this is my appeal for not just abandoning publicly-funded research.

But I do know that publicly-funded research is profoundly important. I have to reveal my bias - I can pay my rent and buy food because of publicly-funded research. But the bottom line is that alot of important research is just not immediately profitable (consider quantum mechanics, relativity).

Also consider intellectual property issues. I know this first hand. I completed my master's research under private funding and have yet to be able to publish or even present the research because the university and our former sponsors are caught in patent-law hell. This kind of thing generally doesn't happen with public funding, except possibly where security is concerned. Publicly-funded research is (supposedly) funded to benefit the public, and dissemination is working towards that goal.

Re:Intellectualism fraud? (1)

HikingStick (878216) | more than 8 years ago | (#14411490)

I believe the free-market view has increasingly exerted influence all areas of our society. Not an evil in and of itself, it has reduced altruism in many arenas, including science.

That said, I don't know a single doctor or research scientist who is motivated first and foremost by his own needs. I'm glad to say that most are still ardent idealists with a generous dose of realism thrown in for good measure.

I believe there was a time where there was a greater emphasis on increasing our scientific understanding for the sake of all. I believe it is still out there, but it can get back-burnered by the same free-market system that prompts many to excel. When scientists feel pressure to keep publishing or keep winning big dollar research grants just to make sure they are not displaced in our economy, we limit their ability to wrangle with those larger questions, and those issues that really stir their passions. Most medical doctors chose that career because, at some level, they wanted to help people (yes, there are those who mostly wanted a good career and a Jag), but ask your doctor how much time they lose to administration, regulation, and paperwork and you will get a better understanding of what I am trying to describe.

Thank God for the free market, but let's not forget that any system comes with both perks and problems. I think you've touched on one of the problems of our free market system.

Re:Intellectualism fraud? (1)

Bowling Moses (591924) | more than 8 years ago | (#14411648)

Yes, scientists are pretty much like everybody else. We're out for number one*, meaning that professionally (us still in academia) like to get big, fat grants from the government. Private corporations fund basic research at levels somewhere between a pittance and jack squat--we couldn't do basic research at all if it wasn't for government funding simply because private corporations need to turn a profit, and there is no guarantee that a given basic research project will find a way to produce some kind of income next quarter or ever. For example, a system I did my graduate work on has been studied off and on for fifty years, but only in the last four years has it attracted private funding because of potential payoff in antibiotics. Don't worry about public funding though: it's highly competitive and grants are (largely--we're imperfect too) awarded by merit. I've never heard of this "round robin boat race" kind of funding nor can I imagine anyone keeping a lab afloat for very long if they tried it. Fields are small, but there is constant competition amongst members of a field for a limited pool of money. How big a pool is well outside our control, and grants aren't awarded by a single person. Additionally, fields are not fixed and people frequently cross over or dabble in, meaning additional competition. Also egos tend to be huge and rivalries can be intense. My undergraduate advisor had a 50 year rivalry with another professor in the same field. What academics live for is big publications that are widely cited for novelty and of course being right...plus proving that jerk at University of Some State got points XYZ wrong in their last paper. You aren't going to do much back scratching with these things commonplace.

As for scandals like this, they happen occasionally. They're also usually found by people in the same field if an internal whistle-blower doesn't do it first. Any good experiment will produce questions based on the results of that experiment. If the initial experiment was wrong or faked, it will be detected eventually because subsequent experiment based on fraudulent data will produce nonsensical results. That's a part of peer review. I've never understood why someone in science would engage in fraud. You hear about it from time to time, after the person's been nailed, usually not too long after the fraud. Of course their career is over, and anyone unfortunate enough to be associated with them have their reputations tarnished as well. Scientists don't tolerate charlatans.

*That said, academics aren't really in it to make money. If you go the academic route in science here's a pay history: undergraduate: net negative income, graduate: $15-$22k/year, postdoctoral research associate: $35-45k/year, assistant prof $50k/year plus. Keep in mind the times in grade: 4-5 years undergrad, 5-7+ graduate, 3-8+ postdoc.

Re:Intellectualism fraud? (1)

codegen (103601) | more than 8 years ago | (#14411733)

I'm a free market guy -- I truly believe that everyone performs actions that help themselves first (and others, secondly, if they want to continue doing what they do). I believe we take jobs in order to pay our bills, and we do our jobs with the consideration of what will keep us employed, and what will give us bigger financial opportunities in the future. I believe that employers are the customers of employees, and that is how I judge employer-employee relations.

While this is true for some people, others are motivated by other considerations. After I received my Ph.D. I spent a year as a Post Doc and then spent 6 years in the private sector before returning to the academia. I currently have an academic position at a research university and I could easily add 50% to my salary if I decided to move to the private sector. The hours of work would also be much more reasonable in the private sector as well. So why am I in an academic position for 2/3 the money and working much longer hours? There have been times I have seriously considered it (especially when marking yet another ugrad exam between Xmas and New Years).

There are several reasons. One, I actually enjoy teaching (but not the marking part). While some of the students make it a chore, the other students that are actually interested in learning more thank make up for it. But the other reason is that I get to decide what is important in my research. As long as I can convince others in the area that it is important (by publishing papers) I get a free reign to pursue research that may not have a commercial impact for 10 or more years. I've had direct experience with technology and techniques that I saw being researched as a graduate student 15 years ago that are now some of the hottest commercial work going in the software maintenance and security fields. When I was in the private sector there were several times that promising avenues of development were readily apparent to those of us in the company, but there was no client to pay for the development and as a result, it was dropped on the floor.

In days gone by, there was basic research that was funded by industrial sources. Many companies had research labs that competed toe-to-toe with some of the best academic departments. Unfortunately, most of that is gone. There are some corporate labs that focus on basic research, but most of it is applied research.

Scientists are starting to scare me. Many scientists find funding through government or taxpayer-funded programs and grants. Are we dealing with the same quality of people who review and allow frivolous patents and lawsuits to be enforced? Will we start seeing more scientists under review for doing what we all do in our jobs -- try and find ways to increase our pay while keeping our work the same (or lower).
In the past there was peer review, but when we involve public funds, I fear what I saw in my consulting business: many consultants bidding on public jobs in a "boat race" -- 5 or 6 state-licensed consultants allowing each other to win a bid in a round robin fashion. I don't do any state jobs because of the collusion I saw in my industries.

I worry more about the use of private funds. I live in Canada, and the primary funding agency here is NSERC (Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council). But I have also served on peer review panels for the National Science Foundation (NSF) in the states and other granting agencies in Canada. I can't really speak for the EU or elsewhere, but the peer review of public funds in both Canada and the US is very high. Everyone in the process takes it very seriously. There are not that many dollars to go around and everyone feels a great deal of responsiblity to make sure that only valid research is funded. There are strict conflict of interest guidelines. When serving on one of these committees, I must leave the room when a grant proposal from my university, or from anyone with whom I have published or supervised in the last n years is discussed (n varies depending on the committee, but is at least 5 years). This is for two reasons. One: I cannot sway the discussion with personal bias; and two: I cannot leak the discussion about the grant back to the applicant.

The supervision of the grant funds is also strict. I can't speak for the NSF funds in the US, but in Canada, there are significant hoops to jump through when you spend the money. When I was in the private sector, all we had to satisfy was the tax auditor for business expenses (with appropriate receipts). Since the company was relativley small, approval for expenses was often verbal. As a technical research lead in the company, I often had to interface with the technical level of our clients, and a trip to the clients site was often verbally approved by the company CEO. Spending public money at the university involves full documentation for everthing. Before the introduction of electronic tickets, the final ticket stub was sufficient. Now, since the airplane ticket is often emailed, we have to provide all of the boarding passes, and for some expenses, we sometimes have to provide a credit card statement showing that we have indeed, paid for the item in question. There are other rules as well. You cannot hire a family member with research money, basic research money cannot pay for a table for the computer in the lab (furniture is infrastructure). In the end, most of the money goes to support graduate students.

Research money from companies tend to come with much looser constraints. Money can be spent on infrastructure such as lab renovations and furniture, there are few restraints on who can be hired with the money, and other issues. Most reputable universities (including my own) impose the government rules on the private money. A scandal involving private money may cause the auditors from the public funding agencies to go over the books with a fine tooth comb.

That is not to say that there have not been scandals. There have been several cases invoving fallacious data and or credentials in both the US and Canada and the results have been serious for all involved. As a result, some of the journals, particularly in medicine and biology, have started to insist that all experimental data be placed in escrow so that it can be independently verified.

But in the end, a lot of the system rests on the credibility of the researcher. I can't put enough information in a 10 page conference paper or a 15 page journal paper to fully validate everything that I have done. As a result, I must keep my reputation scrupulously clean. If others in my field begin to suspect that I am being economical with the truth about my research, then I'm sunk. My papers will not be accepted, since the reviewers will not believe me. The peer review at funding agencies will turn down my grants and I end up with no money to carry on a research program.

Trust but verify (3, Insightful)

digitaldc (879047) | more than 8 years ago | (#14410626)

Female members of his team also said Hwang coerced them to donate their own eggs for his research.

I can see him now..."Give me your eggs so I can scramble the data and we can all go down in disgrace."

Re:Trust but verify (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 8 years ago | (#14410713)

Hey, take it over-easy, at least he didn't poach anyone else's research.

Re:Trust but verify (1)

digitaldc (879047) | more than 8 years ago | (#14410776)

Hey, take it over-easy, at least he didn't poach anyone else's research.

I know, he gave a little benediction before he coddled his data.

Re:Trust but verify (1)

nharmon (97591) | more than 8 years ago | (#14410916)

How else could his conclusions fall down sunny-side-up?

Re:Trust but verify (1)

Ohreally_factor (593551) | more than 8 years ago | (#14412019)

I don't want to be hard boiled, but you guys are cracked.

Re:Trust but verify (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14410826)

Female members of his team also said Hwang coerced them to donate their own eggs for his research.


I can see him now..."Give me your eggs so I can scramble the data and we can all go down in disgrace."


He'll be fried for sure for this!!!

Hwang Woo-suk No Great Loss (1)

writerjosh (862522) | more than 8 years ago | (#14410742)

"The hopes of many quadriplegics (like me) and otherwise injured individuals have been dashed since Korean stem-cell researcher Hwang Woo-suk, who claimed to be on track for curing spinal cord injuries among other ailments, turned out to be an apparent fraud. But I never hung all of my hopes on Hwang or stem-cell research.

That's because scientists who study spinal cord injury, or SCI, know that it won't be stem cells or any other single therapy that will cure paralysis."
source [wired.com]

Nature & Science journals disgraced (finally) (0, Troll)

BadassJesus (939844) | more than 8 years ago | (#14410897)

Lets be gentle here, lets say that these authoritative journals
missinformed us "a little" this time. Not a big deal, it happens, we understand. Nobody could be right all the time.






-----bottom line=>
MUHAHAHAHAHA MUHAHAHAHAHAHA
MUHAHAHAAHA
MUHAHAHAHAHA MUHAHAHAHAHAHA
NUTS

Attack of the CLONES? (1)

davidsyes (765062) | more than 8 years ago | (#14411058)

Whooa... for a sec I thought some panel WANTED the CLAIMS cloned...

Like watching a cat cover up on linoleum. (1)

mmell (832646) | more than 8 years ago | (#14411299)

People in his position are generally heavily funded to perform what I'm sure his investors hoped would be fruitful research. If his research is flawed due to negligence it ends right there with public ridicule and disgrace.

BUT . . . if the fraud was perpetrated intentionally, one is obliged to wonder if verification of the financial practices might not be a good idea (to go along with the scientific review of the lab's "data"). After all, it's a damn sight cheaper to invent scientific data than it is to gain it by hard work and diligence.

Speaking as a scientist... (2, Insightful)

PhysicsPhil (880677) | more than 8 years ago | (#14411592)

...my first reaction upon hearing this was a sense of indignation rather than shame. Although my field is physics rather than biology, we have had out own high-profile fraudsters recently. The actions of this clown reflect poorly on all scientists, but, even worse, he has wasted the time and resources of researchers who are trying to build upon his results.

Many people will say that this was a failure of the scientific review system, but the unfortunate truth is that peer review can do very little to defend against malicious scientific fraud. When I review a paper for a journal, I have to assume that the original data is correct and truthful. I don't have access to the author's work samples for testing, and wouldn't have the time or equipment to perform the appropriate experiments even if I did. A reviewer may question data that looks unusual (e.g. great signal-to-noise or an odd feature in a time-varying signal), but otherwise the data itself will likely go unchallenged.

A reviewer's job is largely to ensure that there is sufficient data to support the conclusions that are drawn and that the methodology used to derive the underlying data is sound. They also weed out the whackos who think they have a warp drive design or perpetual motion machine, but that's less common.

Credible source, but something doesnt seem right (1)

doctorjay (860762) | more than 8 years ago | (#14411674)

Hwang Woo-Suk? Are they forreal?

Some comments from a scientist. (2, Interesting)

posterlogo (943853) | more than 8 years ago | (#14411719)

I'm a biologist working at a university currently as a postdoc. I don't work on stem cells directly, but have an interest in many topics in biomedical research. This situation went down exactly as it should have -- a fradulent scientist was methodically investigated and censured (officially and unofficially). Scientific fraud (and more often, inaccuracy) are generally fished out and prosecuted by the greater scientific community. There is a vested interest for all scientists to maintain the integrity of research in their labs as well as other labs -- much of biology research is interdependent and self-correcting. The main reason why this is elevated to "scandal" level is because of the topic -- stem cells. This man has done great harm to the stem cell field, which is struggling to gain acceptance in this increasingly anti-scientific culture. Some of the comments here have highlighted this alarming trend. It frightens me when people start claiming that scientists need more policing from the outside (re: dada21's post). Although external review is critical for government organization, science is a decentralized, distributed organism dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge. As scientists we attempt to conduct our research and lead our lives, but we also strive to educate the general public (and indeed are excited when the public takes interest in our work). It's not "many" scientists that are publicly funded, it's MOST scientists. There are very valid reasons for that, and yet this year NIH has seen a cut in funding unheard of since the 70s. Please consider this next time you think about DNA testing, the quality of the food you eat, your health care, and something as simple as taking an aspirin. Please don't be deluled into thinking of science and scientists as scary. It attack on science is truly what is frightening.

Funding Science vs. Funding Technology (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14412826)

You raised an interesting issue: most scientists are funded by public money. Science is, after all, an endeavor that has no direct payoff, or in other words, the payoff is 50 years into the future. Most companies have budgets that deal with matters within the next 5 years. Hence, without government support, science would simply not be funded. Companies are simply not structured to fund science. The exception was the old AT&T, but AT&T went bust.

By that same train of thought, government should have no role in funding technology. Engineering research at the universities should be funded by companies, not the government. The reason is that the fruits of engineering research match the timelines of company budgets. Results, if they are attainable, will appear within 5 years or so.

In short, government should fund science, not technology.

Clams? (1)

seven of five (578993) | more than 8 years ago | (#14411817)

Who cares if someone clones clams?

Am I the only person... (1)

plantman-the-womb-st (776722) | more than 8 years ago | (#14412106)

...that smells this as the perfect begining of the world's first super-villan? Seriously, from the first stories about this guy till now I keep getting this mental image of some underground base twenty years from now filled with loyal "research assistants" (henchmen) and this guy saying something like, "so, they thought I was a fraud! HA! I will show them! THEY WILL ALL PAY! Release the clones!"

Cloning Clams? (0)

PhunkySchtuff (208108) | more than 8 years ago | (#14412427)

What's wrong with cloning clams?
I, for one, welcome our new, cloned mollusc overloar...
Oh, wait, I didn't read that title properly. Never mind...
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