"Systematic reviews and meta-analyses that
are carefully done
and that are done by players who do not have conflicts
pre-determined agendas are not a problem, quite the opposite.
The problem is that most of them are not carefully done or are
with pre-determined agendas on what to find and report."
|"In the end I must rely on
the judgment and standing of the few scientific leaders who have, on the one
hand, sufficient independence of
thought to weigh my data on its own hideously convincing merits or in the
light of certain primordial and highly baffling myth cycles; and on the other
hand, sufficient influence to deter the exploring world in general from
any rash and over-ambitious
program in the region of those mountains of madness.
It is an
unfortunate fact that relatively obscure men, myself and associates, connected
only with a small university, have little chance of making an impression where
matters of a wildly bizarre or highly controversial nature are concerned." - HP
Lovecraft, At the Mountains of Madness
|"The case against science
is straightforward: much of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply
Afflicted by studies with small sample sizes, tiny effects,
invalid exploratory analyses, and
flagrant conflicts of
interest, together with an obsession for pursuing fashionable trends of
dubious importance, science has taken a turn towards darkness." - Richard
Horton, Editor in Chief, "The Lancet"
Widespread scientific illiteracy has
Americans defenseless against pseudoscientific babble.
"Many of the laboratories in which abstract research is being
pursued are now connected with some large
corporation, which is quite willing to devote hundreds of thousands of
dollars to scientific study, for the sake of one golden
invention or discovery which may
emerge from it.
Big business of course gains heavily when the invention
It assumes responsibility for placing the invention at the
service of the public.
It assumes also the
responsibility of interpreting its meaning to the public." -
1928 hundreds of thousands of dollars = 2018
hundreds of millions of dollars
pseudoscience demonstrates characteristic patterns:
There is a lack of experiments.
results of experiments are
contradicted in the conclusions.
There is either no
peer-review or peer-reviewer concerns are ignored.
cannot be replicated or falsified due to the
conclusions are supported by
are supported by the evidence are ignored.
"Our culture of
pseudo-science and pseudo-democracy is all too willing to engage in ad hominen
attacks, politically correct
ridicule, cloture of debate, and
lack of tolerance toward anyone
who questions the current accepted scientific truth." - Edward L.
"We have dumbed down our educational standards in
science so far that
is at risk. A population that believes in telepathy,
fat-burning diet pills and a
10,000-year-old planet Earth is unable to evaluate anything objectively."- Paul
Dealing with fraudulent papers from paper
We observe 20 important features among papers from
1. Commercial email addresses: In all papers, just
commercial email addresses were provided. Never academic email addresses were
provided. Often, the email addresses had little relation to the name of the
corresponding author. In several cases, authors claimed that their institutions
do not provide them with academic email addresses.
2. Uneventful peer
review process: All papers passed the routine text similarity check with the
iThenticate software without any problem. With very few exceptions, the peer
review of papers was very uneventful and went smoothly. Editors handled paper
mill papers without noting anything unusual.
3. "Scientific" focus of
the fraud: Most paper mill papers in our journal deal with chemically defined
natural compounds, mostly from plants in the context of "highly important,"
"highly relevant," or "medically underserved" diseases for which there is "no
cure yet" and a "high medical need." Often, paper mill papers advertise a
breakthrough in a given pharmacological field.
4. No reporting of
service laboratories: Several papers included data from so-called service
laboratories, but the papers did not mention this fact in the Materials and
Methods section. Therefore, in our revised editorial guidelines, we request an
explicit statement that all data were generated in-house.
"service laboratories": Authors blame the "service laboratories" of having
provided "problematic data," but we never obtained any information about the
precise nature of the "problematic data."
6. No data at all: In all
cases, the authors were unable to provide original data.The pandemia was blamed
to have caused lack of access to data files or complete loss of data. This is a
hitherto unknown facet of the pandemia that SARS-CoV-2 also infects computer
hard disks and USB sticks.
7. Cut and paste beautiful images: The fraud
data particularly concerned flow cytometry experiments, fluorescence cell
images, western blots, and histology. We noted several types of fraud: images
were flipped. In western blots, only "regions of interest" without molecular
mass markers were shown, never full-length blots.
8. No email
signatures: In no case, the corresponding authors used professional
(institutional) email signatures in the emails.
9. Extremely poor
English in emails: The English language used in email correspondence was
extremely poor and, astonishingly, much worse than in the respective
10. Rapid informal agreement to retraction: When confronted with
the suspected fraud, quite often the corresponding authors very quickly agreed
to a retraction. Authors mention the global term "problem with the data"
without being specific what the problem is.
11. Blaming others:
Corresponding authors blamed one of their graduate students (unnamed) of having
generated "problematic" data, and that the respective student had already faced
consequences ("punishment") by the academic institution.
formal retraction process: The formal retraction process was very sluggish from
the side of the authors and lacked professional conduct.
Communication without content: Evasiveness and disinformation tactics prevailed
in email communication with the corresponding authors. Often, the content of
the emails was close to zero when it came to answering specific questions of
the Editor-in-Chief or the publisher SpringerNature.
14. Puzzling email
clusters: In several fraud cases, the Editor-in-Chief received emails from
authors from apparently different groups within a short period of time (minutes
to hours!) as if the emails were sent by one and the same person under
different email addresses. It was also noted the text was rather
15. Sluggish email communication: Sometimes, there was no
communication at all, because email addresses (especially of co-authors) did
not work or because authors did not respond.
16. No academic
institutions: In two cases, it turned out to be impossible to contact with the
academic institutions from which the papers were generated.
ORCID IDs: Very few authors used ORCID IDs.
Fake reviewers: In general, these reviews were very brief, uninformative, and
written in extremely poor English. Paper mill authors intentionally exploit and
exhaust trusted referees as a valuable resource of a scientific journal so that
desperate editors, as last-resort, use the author-suggested fake
19. Same paper, different authors: In one particularly
egregious case, a paper administratively withdrawn from our files because of
suspected fraud was submitted shortly thereafter to another pharmacological
journal, the only major difference being that the list of authors was totally
20. Geographical origin of fake papers: The retraction notes
published in this issue and the additionally forthcoming retraction notes are
all from one country.
A total number of 10 paper retractions in a single
journal within 1 year is quite a large. Even more dramatic, the high number of
submissions (40) from paper mills caught prior to online publication
illustrates that the problem was massive and that Naunyn-Schmiedebergs
Archives of Pharmacology was considered to be a highly desirable and
attractive target for "academic promotion," both by customers and paper mills.
With an average of about 1,000 submissions per year to our journal in
2019 and 2020, we come to the sad conclusion that around 5% of the submissions
to our journal were from paper mills.
"Corn crops require
fertilizers, virtually all of which are derived from synthetic ammonia.
Synthetic ammonia is produced by the reaction of
nitrogen gas and
Nitrogen gas, which makes up about 80% of air, is abundant and
hydrogen presents a problem.
The major source of hydrogen is
from natural gas, a nonrenewable fuel.
I have seen many statements
about the energy yield of
corn-derived ethanol outweighing its costs, but it is unclear whether these
estimates include the cost of natural gas needed to produce
energy cost of fertilizers, harvesting, distillation and transportation match
or exceed the energy produced by burning the ethanol, then claims that
corn-produced ethanol is a
renewable energy source are invalid." - Henry Abrash, professor emeritus of
chemistry at Cal state Northridge
9 rules for critical thinking:
1. Only independent confirmation through multiple eyes of the "facts"
2. Complete knowledge of any object can only be
seen from ALL perspectives.
3. Authority may be biased or have ulterior
4. Examine as many possibilities as you can think
5. Remain emotionally detached from hypothetical
6. Be as specific as posible when stating a
7. Every link in a
logic chain must be solid.
8. What is the most likely to be true
9. Blind spot bias requires us to
present our hypothesis for
THE FOLLOWING LETTER WAS SENT TO
CNN by Fedx (FOR
DELIVERY, 12/22/08), BY FAX AND BY EMAIL December 19, 2008
One CNN Center, 6 South Tower Atlanta, GA
Jon Klein, President
Time Warner Center New
York, NY 10019
Dear Mr. Walton and Mr. Klein,
We are writing on
behalf of several national and international science journalism organizations
to express our strong concern about CNN's shortsighted decision to cut its
science, technology and environment unit in one fell swoop.
In wielding this ax,
your network has lost an experienced and highly regarded group of science
journalists at a time when science coverage could not be more important in our
national and international discourse.
The environment, energy
exploration, and biotech are crucial ongoing stories that will have growing
prominence as a new American president takes office and nations confront a wide
range of science-based global issues.
As the impacts of climate
change intensify, shows like "Planet in Peril" cannot make up for
coverage of this important issue and
other science topics in the
As with political and policy reporting, it is important
that the underlying science be covered by journalists with the skills and
knowledge to sort out competing claims.
Concerned as we are about the
dismissal of our colleagues-including the award-winning science reporter Miles
O'Brien in New York; Peter Dykstra, head of
CNN's science unit in
Atlanta; and five other science producers there-this letter is not about
wholesale dismantling of the science unit calls into question CNN's commitment
to bringing the most
informative science news to the general public, including the
science-minded younger audience.
CNN wants to be
truly international, it will be at odds with the trend toward increased science
coverage in many parts of the world.
It is difficult for us to imagine
why CNN, which has earned a justifiably strong reputation for its science
journalism in the past, has opted to widen the gap in science coverage rather
than strive to fill it.
We would hope that you would reconsider your
decision and reassemble a cadre of well-trained science journalists that would
enable you to expand unfolding science news and in-depth coverage, not shrink
Your action is an unfortunate symbol of recent widespread cutbacks
in specialty science journalism.
Our groups will continue to push for
more science coverage by the major media and to do our part to promote the
highest possible professional standards for communicating complex science-based
issues across the spectrum.
We plan to publicize this letter as widely
as possible to encourage further discussion of
the future of science
Thanks for your attention.
Russell, President, Council for the Advancement of Science Writing (CASW)
President, National Association of the Science Writers (NASW)
Christy George, President,
Society of Environmental Journalists (SEJ) CGeorge@opb.org
Pallab Ghosh, President, World Federation of Science Journalists (WFSJ)
"I am increasingly dismayed by the devaluation of
scientific fact by its inclusion, by
commentators, in opinions about purely superstitious subjects.
Zev Chafets* derides "secular liberals" for "profoundly"
believing in global warming.
Zev Chafets writes about
Armageddon as though the
latter is more likely to occur.
There is no such thing as "liberal" science .
Peer-reviewed scientific method has
no political party, race or relgious
creed and no objective but
There is no
disagreement among peer-reviewed
scientific journals about the fact of global warming and its cause being human
activity." - Sue Simmons
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