Fake science

Ever present danger of course:

Dr. Yoshitaka Fujii seems well on his way to becoming the patron saint of scientific fraudsters, setting a record for the most extensive output of fake data. As near as anyone can work out, Fujii started making up data with abandon some time in the 1990s. By 2000, his fellow researchers were already on to him, publishing a comment in which they noted, “We became skeptical when we realized that side effects were almost always identical in all groups.”

But you can’t let such skepticism from your peers slow you down—and Fujii certainly didn’t. Even after the comment was published, two different medical schools hired him as a faculty member. He continued to publish, generally using faked data, racking up an eventual record of 200+ bogus papers.

And it’s been around for so long, from the The Perpetual Motion Machine of 1813 to Piltdown Man.

One of the most famous was Alan Sokal but perhaps he can be excused?

The Sokal affair was a hoax by Alan Sokal (a physicist) perpetrated on the postmodern cultural studies journal Social Text (published by Duke University). In 1996, he submitted a paper of nonsense camouflaged in jargon to see if the journal would “publish an article liberally salted with nonsense if (a) it sounded good and (b) it flattered the editors’ ideological preconceptions.”

The paper, “Transgressing the Boundaries: Towards a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity”, was published in “Science Wars” that year. On the day of publication, Sokal announced (in a different paper,) that the article was a hoax. He said that Social Text was “a pastiche of left-wing cant, fawning references, grandiose quotations, and outright nonsense”. Much heated debate followed, especially regarding academic ethics.

Another recent example of this same situation is the 2005 Rooter Paper; this was a paper randomly generated by a computer which was submitted – and consequently approved as legitimate – to a scientific conference.

I wonder if he realized the full implication of his words:

“a pastiche of left-wing cant, fawning references, grandiose quotations, and outright nonsense”.

Climate Science and the new [very old] religion of Gaia?   Royal Society?

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Further reading: One, two, three, four.

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[H/T Chuckles]

3 Responses to “Fake science”

  1. Sniper July 29, 2012 at 13:16 Permalink

    “a pastiche of left-wing cant, fawning references, grandiose quotations, and outright nonsense”

    One hell of a tautology!

  2. A K Haart July 29, 2012 at 15:53 Permalink

    “He continued to publish, generally using faked data, racking up an eventual record of 200+ bogus papers.”

    I wonder how often his papers were cited by other researchers.

  3. James Higham July 29, 2012 at 17:43 Permalink

    Sniper – isn’t it just.

    AKH – It’s a good point – I’d like to know that too.

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