“I can give $5 million to stem cell research and it’s gonna help stem cell research,” says Dr. Mark Lynn, an optometry-chain owner whose name adorns the soccer complex. “I give $5 million to a soccer stadium and it’s gonna help everything.”

That’s the kind of logic we appreciate here at University Diaries.

And it’s what’s made the University of Louisville – “a sports empire on top of a midlevel commuter school” – what it is today: An object of intense interest on the part of the FBI and many other law enforcement agencies. A national disgrace. An international joke. Everything.


With kings and princes and nobility and everything.

“I don’t think [the fired athletic director] gets this, and I don’t think [the jail-bird-in-waiting ex-president] got it,” says state Rep. Jim Wayne, whose district includes parts of Louisville. “The University of Louisville is a state facility … and it is not their kingdom. They are not the kings, and the princes, and the nobility in the kingdom. They’re temporary stewards of these programs. And instead of seeing this as something that they should be responsible for and hold high ethical standards as they execute their jobs, they’re doing just the opposite.”

In Louisville, “doing just the opposite” means shaking the school upside down and pocketing every little piece of coin and cash that falls out of it.

Kings have palaces!

[The school’s arena] required a bailout to keep it from defaulting on more than $300 million in bond debt. [The] athletic department agreed to pay an additional $2.4 million a year. The public, meanwhile, was saddled with another 25 years of arena-related taxes totaling hundreds of millions of dollars. In the end, the arena will cost more than $1 billion, with taxpayers funding most of it. Despite the bailout, some experts fear the FBI probe’s effect on the arena’s primary tenant could be catastrophic.

“[I]n a section of her thesis about the characteristics of stem cells, [Haruko Obokata, a now-disgraced Japanese stem cell researcher] had cut and pasted long passages from the National Institutes of Health Web site… Obokata says that she was hurrying to finish her thesis before the deadline, and accidentally bound and submitted a draft rather than the final version. But [a fellow scientist] says that when he confronted her about the plagiarism she said that it was common at Waseda [University], and that a faculty member had told her that no one reads the theses anyway.”

A long New Yorker essay about madly proliferating stem cell research fraud reminds us of PhD protocols at some of the world’s prominent universities:

Cut – Paste – Pass Without Reading

UD’s been feeling nostalgic for good old stem cell fraud…

… amid all the plagiarism misconduct, so Harvard’s Khalid Shah has arrived not a moment too soon.

Time was UD followed bogus stem cell studies constantly, with this almost immediately discontinued 2005 Korean stamp

the high point of the bogosity. But maybe word got around that bogus stem cell results were getting caught and careers ruined, because stem cell naughtiness kind of fell away.

But bogus, brain-related, stem cell research seems to be what has done in the much-laureled, over-extended, madly-publishing Shah, a man unfortunate enough to have been on the receiving end of one of Elisabeth M. Bik’s punishing data analyses.

Though Bik alleged 44 instances of data falsification in papers spanning 2001 to 2023, she said the “most damning” concerns appeared in a 2022 paper by Shah and 32 other authors in Nature Communications, for which Shah was the corresponding author.

Yeah you read dat right. 32 authors coming out of what —- one million thirty two labs, schools, departments, clinics, each location populated by poohbahs professors grad students scoundrels standers-by and why oh why is anyone surprised that research protocols like this generate longterm fraud??

O stempora! O mores!

You can’t keep these ambitious stem cell researchers down. Remember the Korean guy? They even did a stamp for him showing a person in a wheelchair gradually gaining the ability to walk because of the Korean guy’s amazing stem cell research.

That didn’t turn out well. I mean, once scientists tried reproducing his results.

Now there’s this Japanese stem cell person who also got amazing results due to the simple expediency of making up data and altering pictures.

“Victor Dzau, chancellor of the Duke health system, got a $983,654 bonus, bringing his total compensation to more than $2.2 million.”

Not only that, but Dzau sits on a shitload of corporate boards, which pay him hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars. The dude is raking it in.

Which bothers a few divinity school types at Duke, who note that

the university paid the bonuses even as it was cutting jobs and eliminating raises for most other workers.

… In recent years, Duke has frozen pay and eliminated jobs in an attempt to pare its annual operating budget by $100 million.

Nearly 400 workers have accepted buyout offers since early 2009. Their jobs were then eliminated.

“During a time when the administration is saying we all needed to tighten our belts and make sacrifices…as it turns out, some of the folks who lost money for Duke [she’s talking about investment managers, who also got bonuses] were giving themselves bonuses,” said Amy Laura Hall, a tenured professor of Christian ethics. “I think that’s obscene.” …

Some of Hall’s students have taken to the quads dressed in Depression era gear and selling apples: “With all the cuts we have around here and all the bonuses we have to give to the big guys, we need to raise all the money we can.”

UD will be sending an executive bonus donation to Duke this evening, and she encourages you to do the same. At a time of real fiscal distress, Duke remains foursquare in its defense of its executive reward system. Its executives themselves are equally remarkable for their fidelity, through thick and thin, to the principle of unlimited personal enrichment.

Italy’s University System…

… only slightly better than that of Greece, will reform itself a little bit.

The Italian Parliament on Thursday gave a definitive green light to a government decree designed to promote meritocracy in Italy’s higher education system and overhaul the hiring of university staff.

“Today the university system changes,” Italian Education Minister Mariastella Gelmini said after the Chamber of Deputies okayed the decree with 281 in favor, 196 against and 28 abstentions.

Among measures introduced in the decree, which forms part of a wider program of cost-cutting reforms for the sector yet to be finalized, 7 percent of government funds allocated to universities will be shared out on a performance basis from 2009, rewarding universities which demonstrate excellence in teaching and research.

In a bid to help out people at the start of their careers, 60 percent of funds must be spent on the employment of young researchers.

The decree also increases funding for research studentships by 135 million euros from this year.

The decree has been welcomed by some university bodies including the Conference of Italian University Chancellors and heads of research institutes.

There is a general consensus that the university system, which fails to gain a single entry in the top 100 universities in the world and which Gelmini has said “produces fewer graduates than Chile,” needs to be overhauled.

But critics have downplayed the usefulness of the decree in the light of government spending cuts of an estimated 1.5 billion euros in the sector planned from 2010.

Background here.

Imposters. And How to Spot Them.

The funny thing is, it’s often very easy. You don’t really need my instructions on how to detect con men (it’s usually men), because most con men are right out there. Very, very obvious. Let us consider three of them who are currently in the news, starting with … let’s call him the mildest of the cons.

This man’s trickery is in the long and highly rewarded academic tradition of Julius Nyang’oro, Thomas Petee, and Leo Wilton — all of them professors who systematically, over years, provided fake courses and fake grades for athletes. For professors who don’t give a rat’s ass about actually educating anyone, ever, the rewards of this behavior are deep, profound, and monetary. Schools almost entirely devoted to their football and basketball teams – like the schools these men work and worked for – reserve their eagerest gratitude for professors willing to confer upon athletes the trappings of academic respectability. Administrators can’t do it; trustees can’t do it — only professors can put the A-/B+ on the record and keep players eligible.

The system works beautifully, except that occasionally mistakes of judgment are made, and some female pipsqueak hired to help with the grading (in all of the cases I’ve mentioned, except that of Petee, it was a woman) turns out actually to care about educating people. She’s appalled when she realizes she’s part of a con game, and she goes public with the scandal.

In the case of Florida State University’s athlete-positive professor, we’re talking about an online (has to be online – makes it much, much easier to cheat or indeed do absolutely nothing and ace a course) hospitality course called Beverage Management.

I’m not making this up. At FSU, we have entirely entered the world of Don DeLillo’s White Noise, where a local university offers a course called Eating and Drinking: Basic Parameters.

But don’t be too harsh. FSU started out with much more curricular gravitas for its players. For decades, a music theory professor there let hundreds of athletes cheat their way through his intro course. When that scheme was revealed and became a big ol’ national scandal, FSU had to hustle to find another online curricular home for people it didn’t give a rat’s ass about educating. It lowered itself all the way down to a person who heads one section of his 33 page cv Scholary Honors (some of his students have had it up to here with his spelling). (Oh. And there’s this.)

Where does FSU go now? When this latest cheating scandal is over, where can they go that’s even lower than online courses in Beverage Management?

Okay, so the two other con men the media’s paying attention to this week:

Like the FSU guy with his article-length cv trumpeting his amazing accomplishments (come to think of it, Professor Gun-Spree also has the self-presentation of an egomaniac), the children’s book author whose PEN nomination has been withdrawn on PEN discovering what actual Native American writers have been trying to tell the world for years – the writer is a con man – also displays a hilarious sense of his own greatness.

And let’s end with Paolo Macchiarini, shall we? Stem cell research of course is the hard-science con man’s Emerald City … And this guy, like the others, didn’t exactly hide his borderline-psychotic world of lies.


UD thanks Barney.

Bodacious Bodo walks into a buzz saw.

What is it about stem cell research that generates so much fraud? There were those Korean dudes, of course (the country even issued a stamp touting their work – which it then disappeared); but there have been quite a few others. Including – reportedly – Bodo-Eckehard Strauer, a massively prolific German scientist who seems to have fudged things like crazy. A group of investigators looked at

48 of the papers from his group and expose[d] a series of problems, including arithmetic errors in the presentation of statistics and identical results in papers presenting different numbers of patients. The authors also searched systematically in all of the papers for discrepant information – pairs of statements that could not both be true.

They document hundreds of errors. For example, in some papers patient groups are said to be randomised, while in others patients with identical outcomes are reported as being non-randomised to treatment and control groups. “And when we ran the statistical tests on the control groups, we found many amazing p values of up to 10-60 and 10-108,” cardiologist Darrel Francis from Imperial College London, one of the study’s co-authors, told Nature.

In a press release, Francis says: “Looking deeper, the seemingly comprehensive and decisive proof of efficacy gradually unravelled … the more we thought about it, the less we could understand.”

Strauer is already under investigation by the University of Düsseldorf.

Miscreant Theater…

… is such a great phrase. It used to be the name of a New York City drama group, but I don’t think they’re active anymore. May UD use it? It could be this blog’s subtitle…


Fernando Suarez, the chancellor of Madrid’s King Juan Carlos (speaking of miscreants!) University, “has been accused of copying other historians’ work and that of his students, over a period of up to 10 years.”

Ten years? I rather doubt it. If he’s been kicking around long enough to enchancellor a university, it’s gotta be more like twenty years. Start with the dude’s dissertation, suggests UD.

Suarez is a classic plagiarizer: He’s been at it forever; he lifts from his betters, he has really pissed people like Bernard Vincent off, and he’s fiercely defending himself against this nefarious plot against his good name. He argues that aside from being the victim of said evil conspiracy, he didn’t make any money off of whatever he did or didn’t do, and it was the fault of other people and so he’s innocent.

Colleagues are currently trying to remove this big ol’ butt-boil from the Spanish university system, but as of this writing Suarez remains firmly affixed to that country’s higher education establishment.


Sign a get-rid-of-him petition here.


UPDATE: More detail on the dude’s wondrous multifarious self-defense:

Suarez fought back against the accusations on Nov. 25, when he denied that his methods constituted plagiarism, alleging that his academic publications generated no economic profit and had limited print runs.

He said that the plagiarism cases uncovered by journalists were actually “dysfunctions, because I’m human.”

“We work with avalanches of material in our research teams,” Suarez said, adding that the accusations against him were an attack against the university “by the usual suspects.”

Let’s review, shall we? I’m off the hook because

1. I made no money off of it.

2. I only printed a few copies.

3. Everyone’s human.

4. Material-avalanche.

5. Goddamn anti-intellectuals.

A word of advice for Suarez from ol’ UD, who has been covering plagiarism stories for a long, long time:

He’s pretty much out of hope at this point. Chances are excellent that he’s about to have his ass handed to him. But should Suarez opt to keep up the struggle, UD would urge him to expand on #3. Now’s the time to release biographical material about the sexual abuse he suffered at the hands of his mother — a trauma so total that in order to cope he split off into two personalities, Good Suarez and Bad Suarez…

To the Biederman, Anversa, and Hauser Hall of Fame at Harvard…

… we can now add Calestous Juma, a Kennedy School prof laboring mightily to do the bidding of his corporate besties at Monsanto as together they make the world safe for modified crops.

UD ain’t claiming Juma’s a pioneer in the business of exploiting one’s connection to Harvard to fuck with research results and/or earn millions in questionable corporate and other supporting funds and/or let corporations write your papers for you; Joseph Biederman got there long before Juma, as did, allegedly, Piero Anversa, and good ol’ Marc Hauser. UD‘s only claiming that the tradition of selling yourself and Harvard to, uh, interested corporations continues to thrive at that school.

The Future of an Illusion

Today the American universities not only form the best system of higher education in the world, but are morally impressive institutions. They are not incoherent, nor are they in crisis.

Well, I guess this ain’t Allan Bloom.

No, it’s UD‘s hero, Richard Rorty.

She likes Bloom, but she likes Rorty more.

Her other heroes? The two Christophers: Christopher Lasch and Christopher Hitchens.

Albert Camus. George Orwell. Philip Rieff. Tony Judt.

Can we derive some coherence from these dead white males? Can we say why the same human being would swoon reading both hyper-righties and hyper-lefties? (And weren’t Lasch and Hitchens sort of both?) Why the same human being would applaud when Rorty says universities aren’t in crisis, and when Bloom says they are?

Do we want simply to say, with Gwendolyn, that ‘In matters of grave importance, style, not sincerity, is the vital thing.’? Because all of these men wrote well (Rieff wrote like a jerk, yes, but not all the time. Not in his earlier days.), and some of them (Orwell) wrote insanely well.

No. Surely we want to grant UD a tad more depth than this. It’s not merely about writing style. Yet writing style is part of it. These men are all impassioned moralists, impassioned social justice warriors, and their prose shows it. Their prose has the sort of kick you get when you actually care about what you’re saying, when you believe that language is politics and that politics is how you decrease human suffering. It’s very much like what George Saunders says in an appreciation of E.L. Doctorow:

What I found particularly inspiring about Doctorow was the way he would tweak form to produce moral-ethical effect — the way that he seemed not to see these two things as separate. Reading his great “Ragtime,” for example, I can feel that all of that technical verve is there necessarily — to serve and escalate meaning and emotion. But as important — the verve serves and escalates the fun, the riveting sense that a particular and wonderful human mind is having a great time riffing on the things of this world, trying to make sense of them. The work exudes fascination with the human, and a wry confidence in it, and inspires these feelings in us as we read. Doctorow, we might say, role-models a hopeful stance toward what can be a terrifying world.


In the same remarks of his I quote from at the beginning of this post, Rorty says:

If I were writing a history of the American university, I would tell an upbeat story about the gradual replacement of the churches by the universities as the conscience of the nation. One of the most important things that happened in the U.S. in the twentieth century was that the universities became the places where movements for the relief of human suffering found privileged sanctuaries and power bases. The universities came to play a social role that they had not played in the nineteenth century.

An impassioned atheist, Rorty reveres the American university as the place where arts- and sciences-inspired free and democratic discourse about the world and how to improve it, and about humanity and how to know and love it, thrives. The university is where we gather to read and talk about morally charged language, like Doctorow’s.


Remember what Bartlett Giamatti called the university: a free and ordered space. When Rorty calls the university “not incoherent,” he doesn’t mean it’s coherent, as in fully pulled together, fully ordered and organized around some shared principle or faith. (And as readers of this blog know, once a university decides to organize itself around Joe Paterno, forfuckinggetit.) He means it’s coherent enough – it’s ordered enough to be free enough to generate the sorts of conversations, readings, and experiences that tend to make people (students, professors, readers of the research professors and students generate) more lucid and more compassionate. And more free, rather in the way of, as Saunders puts it, having fun — being part of a classroom where people are experiencing “the riveting sense that a particular and wonderful human mind is having a great time riffing on the things of this world, trying to make sense of them.” That mind, in the university setting, is a collective one, made up of the free and at the same time ordered synergy between a professor and her students.


All of this is by way of background for a few comments on this intriguing opinion piece in today’s New York Times.

Kevin Carey is clearly on Bloom’s side. This is his opening paragraph:

To understand the failures of the modern American college system — from admissions marketing to graduation rates — you can begin with a notorious university football scandal.

So we’re going to talk about Chapel Hill as emblematic of what has made American universities a failure. Not just a failure – a nothing. An illusion. Carey’s title: The Fundamental Way that Universities are an Illusion. Later in the piece he will talk about them as Easter eggs – beautiful on the outside, dead on the inside.

The Nyang’oro fraud went on as long as it did because

U.N.C. had essentially no system for upholding the academic integrity of courses. “So long as a department was offering a course,” one distinguished professor told the investigators, “it was a legitimate course.” … The illusory university pretends that all professors are guided by a shared sense of educational excellence specific to their institution. In truth, as the former University of California president Clark Kerr observed long ago, professors are “a series of individual faculty entrepreneurs held together by a common grievance over parking.”… When college leaders talk about academic standards, they often mean admissions standards, not standards for what happens in classrooms themselves. Or they vaguely appeal to traditions and shared values without any hard evidence of their meaning… The problem for students is that it is all but impossible to know ahead of time which part of the disunified university is which. [And the problem for faculty is that this] kind of profound dissonance can knock askew the moral compasses of people who have ostensibly dedicated their professional lives to education. How else to explain the many people at Chapel Hill — including, incredibly, the director of a center on ethics — who abetted or ignored rampant fraud?

It’s the free and ordered thing again. Carey believes the freedom Rorty identifies in the American university has dissipated into disorder, so that anything goes in terms of pedagogical content, which makes the world safe for the endemic cheating we know goes on at virtually all big-time sports schools. At such schools – the cutting edge, Carey seems to argue, of the frayed American university – even faculty – even ethics faculty – are cheaters. And why? Because they recognize “no shared values,” no “shared sense of educational excellence,” that would give existential identity, much less academic integrity, to the place where they happen to work.

In response to this, I’d like to cite Rorty once again:

In one sense, [the term “morality”] is used to describe someone relatively decent, trustworthy, and honest – one who gives correct change, keeps promises, doesn’t lie much, can usually be relied upon to take an appropriate share in cooperative efforts, and so on. It seems to me if you’re not that sort of person by the time you’re eighteen, it’s probably too late. I don’t think that sociopaths who enter the university are corrigible by any measures that the academy might adopt. If the family, the community, the church, and the like, haven’t made you a relatively decent member of society, haven’t given you a conscience that stops you from cheating the customers, administering date rape drugs, or doing a lot of things we hope our eighteen year olds won’t do, the university won’t either. The academy can’t take on the job of straightening you out, of creating the conscience that the rest of the culture didn’t manage to produce during your first eighteen years.

This is the same point UD tirelessly makes about the absurdity of ethics courses in business schools – and those are older students. They’ve had four or five years past undergraduate school to acquire a sense of decency.

And how much more hopeless when you’re whatever age professors Jan Boxhill and Julius Nyang’oro were when they dedicated year after year of their lives to robbing students of an education and trashing their school’s integrity…

Carey wants us to believe that the openness of their work setting, the structural trust of faculty and students upon which the maturity and generativity of the American university rests, knocked askew the fragile moral compasses of Boxhill and Nyang’oro. But that trust did nothing to their morality because they lacked morality all by themselves; they were the sort of people who take advantage of the trust others place in them, and the openness of the American university simply made it easier for them to do the sorts of things they do because of the way they are. UD doesn’t think we should press the great free liberal arts schools of America in the direction of moral explicitness and constraint merely because some of the people there are bad actors.

Scathing Online Schoolmarm Says: Oh, Goody. Finally an Honest Orwellian.

Finally a University of North Carolina insider willing to trot out the whole 2+2=5, War is Peace, routine! Anyone can condemn the football and basketball scandal at that school as America’s largest instance yet of the way big-time athletics destroys our universities, and indeed in the past couple of weeks everyone has – in a myriad of opinion pieces – done just that. Lawsuits are flying, alumni are pissed, heads are rolling, etc., etc. It’s Penn State all over again.

Only a few people, under these weighty circumstances, will have the guts to go against the grain.

SOS knew that such people would have to come out of UNC’s business school.

So say hello to Michael Jacobs. Mike, c’mon down! We’re gonna do a close scathe of your prose, because you’ve earned it.

Paragraph #1:

For years we have been hearing about the “athletic” or “academic-athletic” scandal at UNC. Maybe I am missing something, but where was the athletic scandal? Were teams shaving points? Were tennis players intentionally making bad line calls? Were soccer players taking performance-enhancing drugs? Were athletes competing on the field who were academically ineligible?

Establish a peeved, above-it-all, know-it-all tone from the outset and come out swinging. No apologies, no concessions. Your first paragraph should contain no use of the word football or basketball. You are going to concentrate instead on the sports that really matter at UNC, the high-profile revenue tennis and soccer teams.

Paragraph #2

No doubt, there has been a scandal at UNC. But what happened in Chapel Hill was an academic scandal. This is not just about semantics. How you characterize the problem dictates how you devise the solution.

Jacobs has copied the response to the scandal that the entire leadership of the school attempted before it couldn’t anymore: Nothing to see here sportswise! (Penn State tried exactly the same thing: It wasn’t an athletic or an academic scandal there: It was just this one creepy guy, Sandusky, who showed up on campus occasionally… ) The UNC scandal is simply about bad business practices, and I’m a biz school guy, so I should know. I’m all about getting it done, solving problems, and I’m going to let UNC in on how to get out of this mess because – I’m now going to share one of those impressive b-school insights – ‘How you characterize the problem dictates how you devise the solution.’

This crucial sentence should really be rendered as it appears in its natural PowerPoint presentation habitat:

How You Characterize The Problem DICTATES How You Devise The Solution.

Paragraph #3:

Athletes were not the only ones enrolled in bogus AFAM classes. They might have been the intended primary beneficiary, but the scandal appears to have been germinated and incubated by the academic side of the university. Paper classes were the brainchild of “academicians” in the college of arts and sciences.

The first sentence is correct, and it means not that the scandal therefore was only academic, but that the scandal was endemic to the university as such. That is, it operated throughout all aspects of the institution, including fraternities (frat boys were the other big beneficiaries of the hoax), athletics, administration, and faculty. The second two sentences are incorrect. The scandal was the brainchild of Deborah Crowder in association with coaches, the hilariously titled Academic Counselors, and Julius Nyang’oro. It seems to have enjoyed tacit acceptance everywhere, all the way up to the woman now chancellor at a sports-above-all sister school, University of Kansas.

Note also Jacobs’ penchant for quotation marks. They designate the can-do biz guy’s contempt for the enemy – intellectuality.

Paragraph #4:

The irony is that now a vocal group of UNC faculty members is questioning whether big-time athletics can co-exist with a prominent academic research institution. The corruption of athletics is tainting the pure quest for knowledge, they contend.

SOS says: This is fine. He’s extending his point about stoopid “academicians.” But she would urge Jacobs, on rewriting, to put the words tainting and pure in quotation marks as well. Like this:

The corruption of athletics is “tainting” the “pure” quest for knowledge, they contend.

SOS knows what you’re saying. Put corruption in quotation marks too! But three q.m.’s in one sentence is too many, she contends.

Paragraph #5

The simple answer is yes they can co-exist, as they do at reputable institutions all across the country, if the academicians will run the academic program with integrity.

Here we see the cut through all the bullshit approach of the b-school boys. Simple, pragmatic, nothing fancy, just square your shoulders and get the job done. All you need is the guts, and unfortunately academicians are gutless. Notice that we’re in the fifth paragraph and the words football and basketball have still not appeared. Certainly reputable institutions across the country have been able to run their tennis and soccer programs with integrity. UNC can too, and this is how:

Paragraph #6:

The breakdown at UNC was due to a lack of appropriate controls and accountability systems within the college of arts and sciences. The primary gestation period for this scandal occurred under the watch of a chancellor who was a musician. While universities need scholars in all areas, including music, music is probably not the optimal background to manage a complex $1.5 billion organization.

Cherchez le musicien! You can get some pansy who fiddles while Rome burns, or you can bring in me and the boys to clean up the mess. It’s your choice! It’s your funeral! It’s your Requiem! Your complex organization (suddenly all that stuff about simple has become complex) needs Men, not Mice.

Okay, we’ll skip a bit, as Brother Maynard says.

Here’s the heart of the thing:

Many in the college of arts and sciences squirmed because [the new post-scandal provost] did not come from among their ranks. The fact that he was an expert in organizational control systems and accountability rather than romance languages made some faculty members uneasy. But Chancellor Folt had defined the problem correctly.

It was all those violinists with French poems dancing in their heads who did this to us, who dragged our fine complex institution into the dust! If you want to clean things up, you obviously have to go to the money guys!

Perhaps the scholars in Chapel Hill who are screaming from the mountaintop that we need to purge our research universities of athletics should pause, take a deep breath and internalize an insight from that great scholar Pogo: “We have met the enemy, and they are us.” The best scholars don’t make the best administrators.

Bravo, says SOS. Jacobs has managed to write an entire opinion piece about football and basketball at UNC without ever mentioning either sport. He has also failed to mention the existence of athletic directors and coaches — the people who, as more and more players now attest, ran the scam from on high for twenty years.

I mean, it’s very odd, isn’t it? The fact is that UNC has been following Jacobs’ advice for ages, and that indeed the athletic program was run brilliantly, generating massive profits and wins. So what happened?

What happened is something that the Jacobs model, to its everlasting peril, overlooks. What happened is that one rogue academician squealed. Mary Willingham is what happened, and no university management system, however complexly and pragmatically run, can control for the rare, bizarre emergence of an honest, non-Orwellian person in its midst.

The only way to control for the enemy within is indeed, to use Jacobs’ appropriately Orwellian word, to purge her. So this is how SOS would suggest revising the piece. Add this.

The screaming scholars of Chapel Hill have it exactly backwards: We don’t need to purge our research universities of athletics. We need to purge our athletics of research universities.

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.

Faint Heart Never Won Full Funding

If there’s one thing UD‘s learned from following the history of retracted papers – most of them, lately, hothothot stem cell papers – is that you don’t want to go half way. You don’t get to be “the principal investigator on grants totaling $57 million since 2000″ without going for it, attracting BIG attention onaccounta your amazing, but strikingly difficult to replicate, work on regenerating dying hearts.

UD has also learned that with the imprimatur of Harvard behind you (our old friend Joseph Biederman continues, in his curious research, to benefit from the association, as does the scientist at issue here, Piero Anversa, the scrambled letters of whose name, UD feels sure, add up to some great phrases, but she’s not up to the task right now), you can just keep rolling along and pulling it in (all those millions for Biederman and Anversa are of course your taxes). People have been making a fuss (a negative fuss) about Anversa’s work for more than ten years.

One Harvard researcher who has long been familiar with Anversa’s work said that many people at Harvard are not surprised by these developments. “If anything it’s surprising how long it’s taken for these questions to surface.”

It’s kind of a funny way to live, isn’t it? You watch a way-belaureled scientist do his questionable research year after year… Many of you watch…

“[T]he move by Slate to retract the article is frightening for writers everywhere.”

UD‘s buddy Carl Elliott is one of the few writers eloquent and informed and tenacious enough to worry any and all corrupt corners of the American scientific establishment – inside and outside of universities.

William Heisel, at Reporting on Health, notes that Slate magazine has pulled a recent piece Carl wrote for them because one of the people mentioned in the piece hired a lawyer to write a letter threatening a defamation suit.

Today, Slate retracted a well-researched commentary by Dr. Carl Elliott about the ethical controversy surrounding Celltex Therapeutics, a company marketing unlicensed stem cell injections, and the American Journal of Bioethics (AJOB).

Celltex recently hired the editor of AJOB, Glenn McGee, and other bioethicists have charged that McGee has been running the journal while working for Celltex. Following the criticism, McGee announced today that he has quit Celltex.

The company works in a medical and ethical gray area, harvesting adult stem cells from fat and injecting them into other parts of the body without solid evidence that the procedures work. Bioethicist Leigh Turner at the University of Minnesota has suggested that the company’s work looks exactly like something that would prompt action by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration.

Heisel’s post contains links to all of the relevant documents, articles, and letters. He points out that a libel suit, given McGee’s public profile, would be almost impossible to win; but, as this case demonstrates, the threat is sometimes enough to chill speech.

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