The Scientist

30 Years of Junk Science

Science and Social Control

"Systematic reviews and meta-analyses that are carefully done
and that are done by players who do not have conflicts and
pre-determined agendas are not a problem, quite the opposite.

The problem is that most of them are not carefully done or are
done with pre-determined agendas on what to find and report."

John Ioannidis

Science Isn't Broken

The Science Delusion

Brokers of junk science?

Rise of Scientific Fundamentalism

"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

Broken Science

Impartiality of Peer Review ?

The Gates Foundation and British scientists

"The case against science is straightforward: much of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue.

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 left

Americans defenseless against pseudoscientific babble.

10 false assumptions of modern science

Is Academic Science Hopelessly Corrupt?

Will the Radical War on Science Transform America?

Ford Spent $40M to Discredit Danger of Asbestos Brakes

Meet the 'rented white coats' who defend toxic chemicals

Nearly All Scientific Papers Controlled By Same Six Corporations

Politics, ideology combat scientific innovations and economic development

Internal documents reveal industry 'pattern of behavior' on toxic chemicals

"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 emerges.

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." - Edward Bernays, Propaganda, 1928

1928 hundreds of thousands of dollars = 2018 hundreds of millions of dollars

Politically motivated pseudoscience demonstrates characteristic patterns:

There is a lack of experiments.

The results of experiments are ignored or contradicted in the conclusions.

There is either no peer-review or peer-reviewer concerns are ignored.

The findings cannot be replicated or falsified due to the withholding of data.

False conclusions are supported by marketing or media propaganda.

Hypotheses that are supported by the evidence are ignored.

2016 was an epidemic year for fake news in science

The seductive allure is a reductive allure: People prefer scientific explanations that contain logically irrelevant reductive information

"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. Kelly

"We have dumbed down our educational standards in math and science so far that public policy 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 S. Dwan

Dealing with fraudulent papers from paper mills

We observe 20 important features among papers from paper mills:

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.

5. Elusive "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 papers.

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.

12. Painful formal retraction process: The formal retraction process was very sluggish from the side of the authors and lacked professional conduct.

13. 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 similar.

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.

17. No ORCID IDs: Very few authors used ORCID IDs.

18. 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 reviewers.

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 different.

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-Schmiedeberg’s 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.

US Approves Corn Modified for Ethanol

The Real Reason We Have Ethanol in Our Gas

Plant genetic engineering for biofuel production

GMO-ethanol corn contamination raises concerns about another "StarLink" disaster

"Corn crops require nitrogen-based fertilizers, virtually all of which are derived from synthetic ammonia.

Synthetic ammonia is produced by the reaction of nitrogen gas and hydrogen.

Nitrogen gas, which makes up about 80% of air, is abundant and renewable, but 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 fertilizers.

If the 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

We tend to say we know made-up things

9 rules for critical thinking:

1. Only independent confirmation through multiple eyes of the "facts" guarantees accuracy.

2. Complete knowledge of any object can only be seen from ALL perspectives.

3. Authority may be biased or have ulterior motives.

4. Examine as many possibilities as you can think of.

5. Remain emotionally detached from hypothetical conclusions.

6. Be as specific as posible when stating a hypothesis.

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 examination.

"Something that is overlooked these days is the influx of large amounts of money, bureaucratic power and influence and prestige that has flowed into science over the last 75 years has turned large parts of it into a careerist profession rather than the vocation it supposedly was.

This is important because there are a number of scientific beliefs maintained in the face of contrary evidence which is politically repressed and editorially swept under the carpet because those who have built their careers on those reigning beliefs are loathe to have them removed from under their hard won elevated positions and from the textbooks they have written." - Anthony Liversidge

pseudoscience is preeminent


Jim Walton, President  
CNN Worldwide
One CNN Center, 6 South Tower Atlanta, GA 30303

Jon Klein, President
One 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 technology, space 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 informed daily coverage of this important issue and other science topics in the public eye.

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 individual journalists.

Rather, the 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.

If 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 it.

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 journalism.

Thanks for your attention.

Sincerely, Cristine Russell, President, Council for the Advancement of Science Writing (CASW)

Mariette DiChristina, President, National Association of the Science Writers (NASW)

Christy George, President, Society of Environmental Journalists (SEJ)

Pallab Ghosh, President, World Federation of Science Journalists (WFSJ)

dirty money = dirty science

"I am increasingly dismayed by the devaluation of scientific fact by its inclusion, by superstitious commentators, in opinions about purely superstitious subjects.

Zev Chafets* derides "secular liberals" for "profoundly" believing in global warming.

Then 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 truth.

There is no disagreement among peer-reviewed scientific journals about the fact of global warming and its cause being human activity." - Sue Simmons

bad science

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