This Week in Scientific Fraud at Harvard

Pete Judo on YouTube posted a 15 minute video summarizing yet another case of blatant scientific fraud uncovered at Harvard. No, not the one from January 2024 involving workers at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute that resulted in 31 scientific papers being retracted from numerous publications. That was so two weeks ago.

Harvard University’s Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston is to retract six research articles and ask for corrections of 31 more, many of them by its senior leaders, after a blogger raised concerns about image manipulation.

Sholto David, 32, a molecular biologist based in Pontypridd, Wales, highlighted apparently duplicated images from 30 articles in a 2 January guest post on the website For Better Science.1 The articles’ lead authors were four prominent Dana-Farber scientists, including the institute’s chief executive, Laurie Glimcher, and its chief operating officer, William Hahn.

This case involves a different “scientist”, though – curiously – the same modus operandi… Submitting scientific papers that support their conclusions not with DOCTORED images, but with images having NOTHING TO DO AT ALL WITH THE RESEARCH BEING DESCRIBED. In essence, this latest case found Khalid Shah used photos lifted from other scientific papers and even stock photos of clumps of cells from commercial web sites and used them to “explain” the biological process he and his team claimed to have discovered.

Again, these papers involved research into cancer treatments and again, these papers were supposedly peer reviewed. In fact, the only person that seemed to subject them to serious review was Elisabeth Blik, who publishes a blog called Science Integrity Digest at

Between 2014 and 2024, Blik has identified over 4,000 potential cases of image-related research fraud. Blik uncovered BOTH of these Harvard frauds. You’d think with a multi-billion dollar endowment, Harvard could create an organization internally to perform the same electronic forensic tests on the research being published by its academics to stop these forgeries from being published and eliminate these frauds from its staff. Why wouldn’t an institution like Harvard pursue this? Could it be they believe their financial interests are better served allowing this type of fraud to continue and taking the occassional PR black eye when caught? Does Harvard feel its finances are improved by fostering the illustion of all of this cutting edge “miracle science” being cooked up in its laboratories and spun off into tech startups linked to the university?

Here’s the summary of this current case:

As mentioned previously, it is absolutely clear that for the majority of academic institutions, money is the mission.


WTH

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This happens endlessly all of it.

This does not include when the results are honest and still wrong which happens endlessly as well.

The real crime is how many people are in phase three testing across the globe. That is supposed to be in very low numbers. It is an ocean of people across all sorts of drug candidates.

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But you have to trust “SCIENCE” unquestioningly! It is the new, only, eternal, unerring, “GOD!” despite the fact that science is falsifiable.

Falsifiability - Wikipedia.

The Captain

will continue to use good judgement to the best of his abilities. Prior studies led him to a new version of atheism, god exists, it is a man made meme. Follow the money/power and you will discover the truth.

Food
Drugs (legal & illegal)
Climate

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Everything is falsifiable, including rationalization of ‘good judgment.’

I don’t know anyone who trusts science unquestionably. In fact, this very thread exists because scientists DID question science in a scientific research paper.

People should ALWAYS question science. It’s not a bug, it’s a feature.

It’s all about improving your odds.

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I might be paranoid but there are a bunch of them right here and they are after me! You must get jabbed! If you don’t do as we say the World will fry us alive after the oceans drown us. The apocalypse is NEAR. I used to hear a lot of that in a Catholic boarding school. Is there a connection?
Money? Power?

The Captain

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Oh, Heavens!!! A scientist lied once. So they all must be liars! I won’t trust any of them.

A foreigner committed a crime once. So they all must be criminals!

A sailor got drunk once. So they all must be drunkards.

How far do we take this line of reasoning?

—Peter

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Let’s roll Denny in the parking lot and split what is in his wallet.

:laughing: :laughing: :laughing:

And this week…

DB2

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https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2024/02/16/journal-published-graphic-rat-with-giant-pen!s-asking-ai/
DB2

Doesn’t say much for peer review.

AI-generated nonsense about rat with giant pen!s published by leading scientific journal

A scientific paper purporting to show the signalling pathway of sp@rm stem cells has met with widespread ridicule after it depicted a rodent with an anatomically eye-watering appendage and four giant testicles.

The creature, labelled “rat”, was also sitting upright in the manner of a squirrel, while the graphic was littered with nonsensical words such as “dissilced”, “testtomcels” and “senctolic”.

DB2
Because of the title, you will have to search for the link

This may be irrelevant to the discussion, but my father wrote a thick volume entitled “Simple and Complex Intergranular Diffusion of Cobalt and Nickel into Mild Steel as Determined by Radioactive and Chemical Analysis” as his PhD thesis. (I didn’t make that up, it’s real.)

When it came time for the “final”, there were no written questions, the thesis wasn’t evaluated, he sat with a bunch of experts in metallurgy at the University who quizzed him orally on the contents of the document. Yes, it must have taken them some time to digest it and come up with relevant questions, but that’s how it went. He passed - with some sweating - and got the degree.

Flash forward about 40 years and he taught a graduate level once-a-week course at Stevens Institute in NJ. While there were infrequent quizzes along the way, the final exam always consisted of specific questions related to the thesis the students did throughout the semester, which went ungraded.

It was immediately apparent which students had done the work and which had bought somebody else’s paper from a fraternity file cabinet and submitted it. More than once a student looked at the questions, folded his booklet and left the room.

It took Dad longer to write individual final exams, but that’s what he did, I guess based on his experience with his PhD. Back in the days before the internet and AI, when “file cabinets in the fraternity” were all we had, this was a pretty sure method of fraud detection. Probably would still work today, if professors would spend the time.

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Doesn’t say much for The Telegraph when they can’t even get the name of the journal right.

The correct name is “Frontiers in Cell and Developmental Biology”, while The Telegraph calls it “Frontiers in Cell Development Biology” in the caption to the odd graphic and “Frontiers in Cell Developmental Biology” in the text of the article.

So we have garbage reporting on garbage articles.

If we’re going to smear all scientific journals by finding an error in one, let’s smear all news reporting by finding an error in one, too.

–Peter

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I can not do justice to my BIL’s story of oral testing for his Ph.D.

He had been a Ph.D candidate naturally enough working in a lab in Michigan, University of. BIL had been playing practical jokes on the head of the lab for a few years. Come time to sit the oral exam they played some elaborate joke on him. He was nearly out of his mind. Then they told him he had passed easily.

To be fair, it looks like the primary problem with the paper was with the figures made from generative AI. These figures appear to me to be primarily for explanation rather than providing actual data.

Without looking at the paper itself, it may be that the data was accurate and legitimate but the authors messed up on the summary figures. See lots of criticisms about the picture of the well-endowed rat but I’ve seen no criticisms of the data or conclusions of the paper.

Here is a more detailed description of the retraction:

This may be more about aesthetics than scientific content.

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Are you saying the peer reviewers shouldn’t look at the figures in a paper?

Which is available from the University of Iowa and the University of Utah.

DB2

Who said that? The paper should be retracted. I’m saying that it is possible that the problem is less severe than you are making it out to be. Peer review mistakenly allowing poor quality figures is less troubling than one ignoring false data.

Seriously, wouldn’t you be less troubled by this peer review failure if the problems of the paper were limited to the picture of the rat’s organ being too large and typos in the figure legend versus falsified data?

Do you have some kind of vendetta against scientists?

This by the way is the official retraction statement from the journal:

Following publication, concerns were raised regarding the nature of its AI-generated figures. The article does not meet the standards of editorial and scientific rigor for Frontiers in Cell and Developmental Biology; therefore, the article has been retracted. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fcell.2024.1386861/full

No mention of scientific fraud or malfeasance as would be expected if the authors had generated the data using AI instead of from actual experimentation.

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Utah is where Pop went (on the GI bill) following WWII and his stint in the Navy. Why it’s also at Iowa I don’t now, although it was an Aunt who lived in Iowa who paid his way through the first college in South Dakota.

Interesting times. Never thought to look it up, I have the hard bound version here at home in the library, It’s about an inch thick and no, I’ve not read it. Yet :wink:

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I’ve read my husband’s PhD dissertation … many times. I was his proof reader, and this was back in the day before word processing was a thing. He paid a typist from the typing pool to put it together. He’d bring home 10 pages or so for me to read and, fairly typically, there’d be 3 or 4 typos per page. Back they’d go for retyping (no correction fluid allowed) and back they’d come with corrections…and another couple of different typos. I got to know more than I cared to about the origin of circulating immunoreactive serum trypsin in man.

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My BIL in research agrees with this. The attack on the research is usually finding minor things.