Haagiography

Vlad’s imaginary friend.

“Dr. Obokata copied a large chunk of her 2011 dissertation from a U.S. National Institutes of Health website on stem cells.”

Waseda University acknowledged problems with its guidance and screening process…

Miss Stem Cell 2013 was yet another beneficiary of the I’m too busy and important to actually read the dissertations here system – a system that seems particularly popular in Europe and Asia (UD has long noted an adorably old-fashioned tendency on the part of professors in the United States to – er – guide and screen the things their students write). Students know their professors can’t be bothered, so they pick up their dissertations wherever… translate an NIH website into Japanese and off we go…

Piling On: The Sociopath’s Undoing

UD has made the point on this blog before: Universities need to be very skeptical of high-powered job candidates who come at them with absolutely incredible accomplishments. Rather than start hyperventilating and begging the candidate to tell them what the school can do to make them join its faculty, search committees need to calm down, take a deep breath, and ask whether they’ve got a liar on their hands. Not just the sort of mild liar who plumps up his cv a bit here and there, but a plagiarist, a research-faker, a degree-inventor, and – ultimately, as West Virginia University has recently learned, a very scary person.

When a faculty member at WVU began examining the credentials of the school’s chair of epidemiology (the chair was being considered for an honor called the “Chair of Excellence”), he quickly discovered that virtually everything on Anoop Shankar’s cv was made up. As the university launched an investigation, Shankar made the sociopath’s characteristic mistake: overdoing. Sociopaths tend to overdo their resume claims; and, when cornered, like Shankar, they tend to overdo their efforts to destroy their would-be destroyers. Shankar sent two Indian friends to talk to the professor – Ian Rockett – who outed Shankar. This is what his friends reported happened when they did so, with one of the friends entering his office and the other waiting in the hallway.

“You Indians have nice brown skin,” Rockett allegedly said [to them]. “But you smell weird with the spices that you use for cooking.”

Right about then the grey-haired professor supposedly pulled his chair closer and snatched at the young man’s penis.

Teppala claimed that from the hallway, he could then hear Rockett rise from his chair and say loudly to Ganesan, “Here, taste my white c–k.”

Ganesan said he fled rather than reciprocate and that Rockett flew into a rage, his words echoing into the corridor: “I will destroy you!”

Ahem. When scripting these scenarios (one of the friends later confessed that Shankar had written and directed this drama), you need to be selective. Minimalism is more plausible than maximalism to most audiences. Deciding to throw in not merely an ethnic slur, but sexual harassment, and not merely sexual harassment but sexual assault, and not merely sexual assault but violent threat of retaliation, is just the sort of excess you’d expect from a sociopath.

A law school ranked 72nd in the country…

… A $73,002 yearly price for students.

Very poor job prospects.

A dean who “who made more than $500,000 in compensation in 2012.”

Ooh la la.

Getting to Be a Bad Boy for a Long Time

Whether it’s MIT’s beloved Gabriel Bitran or the University of Kentucky’s much-cherished Dongping “Daniel” Tao, bad boys and certain universities go together like a horse and carriage. Who knows why, with ooooodles of information about these professors’ wrongdoings, these universities just kept on keeping them on? Starting three years ago, Tao’s habit of, uh, enslaving his graduate students was duly noted by higher-ups at UK, but too much bourbon and too much football seems seems to have distracted them… Because they dint do nuthin.

Emboldened, Tao blew off the whole “university professor” thing and used UK as cover for his private consulting business (in which UK grad students were his slaves – this is a variant on the Cecilia Chang story). A kind of cherry-on-top is that he double billed both clients and UK for all kinds of fun travel and restaurants.

It’s very hard to uncover fraud when you’re … well, how to put this kindly…

A Dearth of Replications

Th’ expense of paper in a wasteful game
Is just inaction; and, till repeated, work
Is perjured, murd’rous, bloody, full of blame,
Savage, extreme, rude, cruel, full of murk;
Printed no sooner but distrusted straight,
Past reason shunted; and, no sooner read
Past reason hated as a swallowed bait
On purpose laid to keep researchers fed;
Vast in results; but replication? No,
Fed, feeding, and in quest to feed, extreme;
A bliss in proof; unproved, a very woe;
Before, a joy proposed; behind, a scheme.
All this the world well knows; yet none knows well
To shun submissions that lead men to this hell.

A mildly acidic environment.

Sometimes retraction watch becomes suicide watch: The toxic combination of a sense of disgrace, and a culture in which suicide is seen by some as a form of atonement, has brought a distinguished Japanese scientist to self-destruction.

Yoshiki Sasai killed himself at his laboratory, where he oversaw – and appeared as co-author on – the now-notorious, apparently totally bogus stem cell work (“the researchers reported that they successfully transformed ordinary mouse cells into versatile stem cells by exposing them to a mildly acidic environment”) of Haruko Obokata. Accused of bearing significant responsibility for Obokata’s misconduct, which brought negative international attention to Japanese science, Sasai apparently fell into a depression.

Will they go after the $25,000?

When your taxpayer-supported school gives a large money award to a fraud on the faculty, a fraud who resigns in disgrace, you’re supposed to try to get the money back. Bentley University’s fraudmeister, James Hunton, left back in 2012 when one of his articles was retracted. Before then, the school thought he was so hot they gave him the Mee Award with its tidy cash sum attached…

Since
then, Bentley has investigated the stolidly uncooperative Hunton’s entire scholarly output. They’ve been able to confirm one other fraudulent paper, but the whole thing ain’t been easy.

Hunton failed to cooperate with the university’s inquiry. Despite being told to retain any relevant documents, Bentley found that Hunton had cleaned out all his physical files before leaving, and that his laptop had been wiped clean.

Other electronic records reviewed by the university found that certain documents related to Hunton’s research had been altered after allegations were first made against him in the fall of 2012.

In particular, Hunton had said that confidentiality agreements with the firms used in his data-gathering prevented him from sharing original data with his coauthors and editors. The university’s investigation found that the agreements included “unusual redactions, contradictory dates, and — most damaging of all — evidence that the documents had been revised” after allegations were raised.

It’s fun to think of Jimbo sittin’ around rewriting his confidentiality agreements…

The hereinafter named party of the first part will hereby be absolutely enjoined in perpetuity never to show any person or institution any item party ever wrote either by pen keyboard or other graphical instrument under penalty of death…

“As revenues are flowing in, it’s just plowed back into the athletics.”

What? What? Knock me over with a feather! You’re telling me that money doesn’t go to academics??????

*************************

Attorneys for the plaintiffs also questioned Petr on why revenue numbers the NCAA provided Congress with show 78 percent of D-IA schools reported revenue greater or equal to the their expenses. In this trial, the NCAA contends only 18 schools showed a profit in 2012.

Bwahahaha!

Columbia, the Land of Oz

“Oz, with his credible position as a professor at Columbia University…” writes James Hamblin about Columbia University’s Mehmet Oz, a shameless huckster.

Columbia gives him credibility. What does he give Columbia?

‘I Was a Teenage She-Wolf’ found to be a hoax!

With its way-believable plot (six year old girl escapes Holocaust; is raised by wolves; shoots and kills a Nazi along the way), who could have guessed Misha: A Mémoire of the Holocaust Years would turn out to be made up? I mean okay – if she’d said she was three years old, raised by aliens, and blew up a Nazi arsenal, maybe we would have become suspicious…

AH! PERFIDO!

I know one is supposed to be anguished and perplexed; but when you’re a veteran hoax-lover like UD, there’s such a merry, almost over-full, feast in the Samuragochi saga. Pardon me for laughing.

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Okay, some good article titles are beginning to appear… Ode To Fraud is good… I have one (she said, blushing becomingly):

Die Fraud Mit Schatten

Ja, ja, it’s extremely convoluted, and you have to be extremely cultured to get it…

Okay, here.

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An earlier musical hoax.

‘The commission imposed a $46.5 million judgment on the company, which sold $364 million of Sensa in the United States from 2008 to 2012. But the company will remit little more than half the settlement amount “due to their inability to pay,” officials said.’

Rush University medical center has on its faculty Alan Hirsch, creator of a magic powder of interest to the Federal Trade Commission.

Madoff, Merkin, Wilf, Rennert…

… To the rogue’s gallery that runs and has run Yeshiva University, we must add Julius Berman, who continues to hold a place of honor on one of that farcically scandal-ridden university’s boards of trustees. Berman’s chair emeritus of the all-boys board of Yeshiva’s seminary. And like several of his amazing Yeshiva compatriots, he sure does know how to get into trouble.

From an opinion piece in the New York Times.

[Susan Fuhrman, head of Teachers College Columbia University,] finds the birth of alternative teacher schools “upsetting.” “I worry about cutting that kind of preparation off from the scholarship and from emerging research” that a university offers, she said. “It can sound like I feel threatened. I don’t. But it just worries me as a trend.”

There are 3.3 million public school teachers in America, and they probably can’t all be trained by start-ups. Raising up the standards of our university programs should be an urgent priority. But one reason for the widespread mediocrity is that universities have had a cozy, lucrative monopoly. It’s about time the leaders of our education schools did feel threatened.

This blog has for years followed the scandal of America’s schools of education. Their notorious mediocrity continues to generate alternative forms of preparation for the profession.

[U]niversities have proved largely immutable. Educators, including some inside these institutions, say universities have treated education programs as “cash cows.” The schools see no incentive to change because they have plenty of applicants willing to pay full tuition, the programs are relatively cheap to run, and they are accountable to no one except accrediting agencies run by, you guessed it, education schools. It’s a contented cartel.

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