And if he can pay enough people to…

vote for him…

“[I]f this turns out to be a hoax, it is going to turn the clock back on their thinking 30 years.”

I don’t think the now-notorious UVa gang rape story, as told to Rolling Stone magazine, is a hoax.

But, as I commented to one of my readers who thinks it might be, this blog has covered false rape claims before, and if this turns out to be one, it will certainly do that again.

And of course this blog will cover emergent skeptical takes on the Rolling Stone account. Like this one.

Jan Boxill: The ULTIMATE Academic Stakhanovite… Or is she?

She taught

160 independent study courses between spring 2004 and spring 2012…. [I]n spring 2005 she taught 20.

Let’s just start with that. Let’s start by trying to imagine what her daily life must have been like with 160 independent studies taught alongside a classroom teaching load.

Then let’s add her directorship of an ethics center. Her work as a summer school administrator for the philosophy department. During these years she was an academic advisor to the athletics program. She was associate chair of her department. She was Teaching Coordinator and Director of Undergraduate Studies for her department. She sat on a quadrillion university committees.

In addition: “UNC women’s basketball coach Sylvia Hatchell said Boxill completely oversaw the teams’ academics, making herself available for players at all hours of the day.”


It might seem a small point, but

[UNC’s] highly autonomous academic culture [the sort of culture that makes things like independent studies possible] is exactly what led to UNC’s academic-athletic scandal, according to the Wainstein report.

Datz right, kiddies. Thanks to Jan and Julius and Deborah and a whole, whole lot of other people, you can kiss any autonomy goodbye if you teach at unannounced spot checks to make sure all faculty are meeting their classes Chapel Hill. Keep your nose clean and fill out all your paperwork by five, sucker.

It might seem a small point. But it’s the biggest of them all.


Jan’s a sports-lover and it’s obvious that she’s very competitive.

UD has some very bad news for Jan.

I know, I know. She’s handling a lot of bad news just now, and it’s not nice to pile on. But I think she will appreciate knowing this, because I know she’s the sort of person eager to lift her game.

Thomas Petee, of Auburn University, taught

152 [independent studies] in the spring of 2005, [and] 120 in the fall of 2004.

Chapel Hill: 20
Auburn: 152

That’s a pretty shitty showing, Jan. If you don’t mind my saying. It’s pretty obvious which of the two of you was doing more for your school.


UD thanks Dave.

‘[T]he whistleblower emailed Mary Ann Spott, deputy director of the Army’s Joint Trauma System, which evaluates battlefield care. Spott wrote back, “I have confirmed that Dr. Apodaca did attend Yale and does in fact hold a degree in statistics from that institution,” according to emails obtained by the AP. Four days later, Apodaca admitted degree fraud and resigned. “Ms. Spott’s actions were appropriate,” [Army spokesman Lt. Col. Benjamin] Garrett said.’

If you’ve ever wondered what inspired Joseph Heller to write Catch 22, read this article, about how the Army handled a degree fraudster in its midst.

The Path to an African and Afro-American Studies Minor at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill.

Huge numbers of non-athletes took the notorious fake courses staged by the chair of African and Afro-American studies and his administrative assistant. Fraternities in particular, given their close connection to athletes, knew all about them. As the report on the almost twenty year hoax notes:

[When interviewed, members of fraternities] said that some of their non-athlete fraternity brothers took so many of the [bogus] classes that they inadvertently wound up with minors in African and Afro-American studies.

This is a great example of an argument UD has encountered ever since she started writing this blog: Big-time athletics benefits the whole university.


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…

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.


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?

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