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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.

Margaret Soltan, September 10, 2014 12:10PM
Posted in: hoax

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9 Responses to “Piling On: The Sociopath’s Undoing”

  1. theprofessor Says:

    It’s going to be tough to top this one for audacity.

    Fortunately for Shankar, however, I hear the University of Miami is looking for a new president. I am pretty sure his soon to be published books Implementing The West Coast Offense in Southern Climates and Complete Manual of Bail Procedures for Student-Athletes might dispose the trustees favorably toward him.

  2. charlie Says:

    “Here, taste my white cock.” “You Indians have nice, brown skin.” What informs this moron, bad porn?

  3. Lily Says:

    One interesting aspect is the continued publishing collaboration among WVU faculty who were well aware, and even first notified of the fraud which lead to the investigation. Despite being alerted to the fraudulent credentials and papers listed on Shankar’s cv, papers with WVU co-authors were being newly submitted. Clearly, in the pursuit to add ever more publications, folks are willing to make very bad decisions indeed.

    Although such egregious disregard for scientific integrity is shocking, it is the more insidious forms of scientific misconduct that threatens scientific discovery. Clearly, departments, funding agencies (including NIH), administrations, and colleagues are culpable, when they do not pause to wonder how a single researcher dreams up a new methodological approach, builds complex data sets, runs sophisticated spastically models, and conducts sensitivity analyses, writes and submits the manuscript, every single month of the year. Even if no purposeful fraud exists, is this the type of science we want? Ford-factory style, salami slices? How is it, that the absolute number of papers has become so important, while the quality and content are ignored by Everyone who knows better, e.g., NIH grant reviewers, editors, scientist-colleagues, and tenure review committees.

  4. Margaret Soltan Says:

    Lily: Absolutely. I compare it to the Bernard Madoff story. How is it only Harry Markopolos saw the impossibility of Madoff’s returns? (Of course a few other people and institutions saw their impossibility and stayed away from his fund, but they didn’t alert anyone. Markopolos kept trying to alert everyone, and was ignored.) In both cases, a culture of self-aggrandizing “productivity” just keeps the hoax churning.

  5. DRC Says:

    Read this:


    for more dispiriting information about the case. Note especially paragraphs 7 through 11. Clearly, WVU let this guy go quietly, as he was able to secure employment elsewhere. Notice also the continued reticence, despite his having been dismissed all the way back in 2012.

  6. DrGeneNelson Says:

    For those interested in researching more about the egregious conduct of Anoop Shankar, I ran a simple search for [Author] = Shankar, Anoop on Medline. You will observe that Mr. Shankar is connected with a large volume of research. Given Mr. Shankar’s predilection to deceive, I recognize that many of those research results will be called into question. You may also learn more by searching with the four Google search terms
    Anoop Shankar M.D. Ph.D.

  7. charlie Says:

    UD, very good job of comparing Shankar with Harry Madoff. Harry Markopolos realized Madoff’s criminality early on, and attempted to alert the SEC, but was ignored. Reason being, Madoff was one of the charter members of NASDAQ, the second largest stock exchange in the world. He wasn’t a maverick, out on the fringe, he was very much an elite player and stalwart of Wall Street. His existence and success came because he was a fraud, a crook, which informs us that financial markets are a con job, if a guy such as this could actually create a major financial institution such as NASDAQ.

    Which brings us to Mr. Shankar. He was much the same as Madoff, not a renegade, not some marginal outlier, but an celebrated member of the club, and concomitantly, a fraud and crook. As with Madoff, if a guy like Shankar can flourish, then it must mean that a large measure of academia is nothing more than a scam. Stock markets have numerous layers of oversight and enforcement, the only way that Madoff got away with what he did was because many others, including institutions, were involved with the grift. If the oversight procedures didn’t work in the case of Shakar, then again, we have a whole lot of folks in on this pigeon drop scheme. No other way about it, a systemic failure, question is, just how corrupt is higher education?

  8. Aisla Says:

    I’m just reading your post now. I work with someone like this. I hope that as these people are exposed, it paves the way for more of them to be exposed. It is true terror working with someone like this. They are manipulative, crafty, and because they don’t really care about lying or hurting people, have no problem trying to destroy an innocent person, whether it’s a student, job candidate, or someone who exposes them, which is why I suspect many go unpunished: Who wants to have to respond to outlandish fabrications (which take time, money, emotional energy and stress) that you know some people will still think are true, because “why would someone make that up” (which then can have material impact on someone’s personal and professional life)? We need to find ways of better handling such unethical and harmful behavior, and make it easy and safe for reporting.

  9. MannyHM Says:

    How did this Anoop Shankar obtain employment at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) after his O-1 Visa became automatically invalid and revoked because it’s based on fraud. Did West Virginia University (WVU) make any attempt to officially revoke his O-1 Visa ? With his O-1 Visa revoked, he should be deported already. Where is he now ?

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