Schneider Shorts of 17 September 2021: Claudio Hetz and Arati Ramesh without intent to commit fraud, a competition of stupidity – featuring Tel Aviv University, French Minister for Research, entire pharma giant Sanofi, and everyone following a certain Church, and finally: can one punch a bearded guy wearing glasses (asking for a friend)?
Table of Discontent
Updates on For Better Science
- Reckless Hetz: sorry he was caught
- Authoritarian Conduct: Arati Ramesh is merely careless
- Cognitive Deficiencies: a very stupid Israeli Scientists joke
- Sanofi Self-Destructing? R&D head John Reed is a special case
- Supplements against Alzheimer’s, with Niels Bohr’s grandson
- IgNoble Fistfighter: David Carrier’s evolutionary psychopathy
- Church of Church: resurrected mammoths to fight climate change
- Neurotic Squirrels: the Big Four of Squirrel psychology
Updates on For Better Science
The Chilean star scientist and neuroscience professor at the University of Chile, Claudio Hetz, was found guilty of what sounds like research misconduct by gross negligence. No fraud was found though because no intent could be determined.
Here the university’s press release:
“Regarding the substantive issue, the investigation establishes, as a first conclusion, that in the study of the antecedents, actions constituting scientific fraud were not detected, understood as a deliberate act of creating false data to support or demonstrate a certain scientific thesis . In this way, no publication has been retracted, maintaining the validity of its findings and conclusions.
Notwithstanding the foregoing, the committee detected some objectionable patterns of behavior that were at odds with scientific ethics, which were ratified in the report of the ethics commission of the Faculty of Medicine. In particular, these refer to manipulations not allowed, nor informed of figures published in some scientific works. See ethics report link
In this regard, the most important conclusions of the reports include:
1- That it has been documented in a certain way that Professor Hetz has engaged in behaviours that are classified as breaches in integrity of the scientific process, understood as an inexcusable abandonment of his duty of care in the performance as a professional of scientific research, Negligent acts and conducts and untidiness in the presentation of results, in particular those related to the figure presentations that suffered undue alterations and that were not correctly reported.
2- That the main responsibility for the anomalies detected falls on Dr. Hetz himself, as the corresponding author, without detriment to the specific responsibility that his subordinates and collaborators may have.
3- That these behaviors constitute an unacceptable behavior in the scientific process since they damage public trust, so they must be corrected immediately.”
It links to the investigative report which mentions interesting things. First, the investigation was set up specifically because of my article, and second: Hetz is constantly berated for providing replies which were “unsatisfactory, considered incomplete, insufficient and in some cases confusing” and for failing to show any concept of guilt for the data manipulations he admitted to have committed as first author:
“First and foremost, because for a student, the interventions in the two figures had to be consulted with the corresponding authors of the respective articles and reported in the captions of both figures and, secondly, because it reveals a complete absence of self-criticism in the face of obvious ethics failure that the aforementioned manipulations show in the presentation of experimental results.”
At the same time, Hetz blamed his lab members and collaborators for manipulations in his later papers:
” Without them having the opportunity to defend themselves or express their version, Dr. Hetz dilutes in doctoral students, post-doctoral researchers and research assistants a responsibility that mainly concerns him as corresponding author.”
It seems only the cases where Hetz still had the raw data were evaluated:
“not all the observations or questions published in PubPeer were validated by the Committee, because in some cases the originals were not available due to the time that had elapsed”.
This is my favourite quote:
“…Dr. Hetz shows a total lack of self-criticism regarding actions that then and now violate basic ethical principles in a scientific publication. Furthermore, with the latter explanation [“Given my little knowledge in digital image processing at that time, the way of hiding the cells that we did not want to show was not very elegant”], Dr. Hetz seems rather to regret that he did not have better tools for editing the figures, so that the undeclared interventions would have gone unnoticed.”
Indeed, he has much better tools now, so you won’t catch him again.
There is also a newspaper interview where Hetz speaks about me. I am crying.
“Of the site that made the complaint, Hetz says that he had heard of him from other colleagues in the United States, because he has dedicated himself to attacking very important people in the field of science, including scientists who have won the Nobel Prize. In his opinion, it is a platform that seeks to satire science, due to the type of communication and language it uses. In no case is it science journalism. From the note that talked about his work, he learned from social networks and because colleagues from his laboratory told him.
“When I read it, it was a feeling of anger and injustice. A very malicious story was generated, it showed an intentionality in the errors ”. Today he prefers not to refer to either the site or the author. It simply does not consider it valid in the questioning exercise it claims to do with science. For that, says Hetz, there are established protocols and anonymous complaints, it is important to occupy institutional and formal mechanisms that exist in the magazines and not to use offense and discredit.”
Another scientist was declared innocent of research misconduct, only mildly berated. Arati Ramesh of NCBS Bangalore, India, was previously accused of bullying, humiliation and threats which drove her student Siladitya Bandyopadhyay into data forgery whom she then wrongfully blamed for everything, including of stealing raw data and reagents.
See more in the update to this article:
A press release was just issued by the Tata Institute investigators. Ramesh is saved, because she and her right hand Dolly Mehta “were unaware of this malpractice, and did not encourage it in any way.” Both are innocent of research misconduct, Ramesh is guilty merely of “scientific carelessness and lack of diligence“, despite her “authoritarian conduct“, it’s stated that Ramesh “would never have supported any unethical practice.” She is sanctioned with some lab management training and supervision. Mehta is even to receive a certificate of utmost honesty. Bandyopadhyay and Ramesh’s former postdoc Susmitnarayan Chaudhury are both charged with research misconduct.
Israeli Scientist TM Dr Shai Efrati took a small break from curing COVID-19 and cured Alzheimer’s.
First, mouse models of Alzheimer’s were cured with his Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT). Then, paying elderly customers who did not have Alzheimer’s but allegedly had memory loss (maybe they claimed Dr Efrati charged them more than he actually did?) were treated with HBOT. They were attested then with improved blood-flow and cognition, via “NeuroTrax computerized testing battery”. There was no control group of course.
Here the paper, in that papermill trash journal Aging:
Ronit Shapira, Amos Gdalyahu, Irit Gottfried , Efrat Sasson, Amir Hadanny, Shai Efrati, Pablo Blinder, Uri Ashery Hyperbaric oxygen therapy alleviates vascular dysfunction and amyloid burden in an Alzheimer’s disease mouse model and in elderly patients Aging (2021) doi: 10.18632/aging.203485
We are also humorously informed, as part of this Israeli Scientists Joke:
“The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.”
Even the Aviva HBOT business owner Efrati himself found that a bit too much bullshittery, and replied on Pubpeer: “it is a mistake that will be corrected.“
There are more mistakes to be corrected. The study reports 6 patients treated with HBOT between 2016 and 2020. The corresponding clinical trial NCT02790541 had however 62 participants, those with “Severe cognitive decline (MMSA<17)” were excluded.
Yes, SIXTY-TWO trial participants, but apparently only SIX of them reported cognitive improvement and thus qualified to participate in the paper.
No, it’s the Tel Aviv University who are cognitively deficient here. Look how proud they are, with a press release:
“Reversal of the biological hallmarks responsible for development of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia using unique hyperbaric oxygen therapy protocol “
“Prof. Shai Efrati sums up the team’s findings, “By treating the root problem that causes cognitive deterioration with age, we are in fact mapping out the way to prevention. It is likely that hyperbaric medicine can potentially provide the opportunity for living with good brain function without relating to chronological age. The idea is to commence therapy before the onset of clinical symptoms of Dementia and before deterioration and loss of extensive brain tissue. This is the stage at which blood vessels become occluded and the blood flow and the oxygen supply to the brain are diminished – a phenomenon that can already take place at a relatively early age”.”
Israeli readers, do help me out. Is Tel Aviv University a real research institution, at all?
Over two years have passed since I published my article about Sanofi’s then-appointed head of Research & Development, John C Reed. With some more recent finds, Reed’s PubPeer record now stands at whooping 46 papers, and nobody dares to touch them. Guess how many of these Reed papers were retracted? Zero. Apparently, not even a single correction.
But a reader told me something interesting about Reed’s past.
Reed invented the cancer drug Genasense (oblimersen sodium) while mentored by none other but Carlo Croce, and licenced it to the company Genta, on whose board Reed used to sit and into which his current employer Sanofi invested almost half a billion dollars, all of which went up in smoke after Genta went bankrupt in 2012 under hilarious circumstances. There was an article about this Genasense scam, published by Jim Silverman in 2012 on now defunct The Street, but here a backup. Quote:
“Genasense’s phase III study in melanoma failed, although Genta claimed the data were positive. The company sought FDA approval but the drug was rejected. Genta tried for FDA approval again, this time with lackluster data from a leukemia clinical trial. Again, FDA kicked Genasense to the curb. Genta decided to give melanoma another shot but a do-over clinical trial failed. Finally, in 2011, Genasense was scrapped.”
Here the punchline:
“That Genta was able to survive for 24 years, burn through $1.2 billion dollars of investors money, finance themselves through deeply discounted converts for over two decades, with a single CEO for its final 13 years, even after losing 100% of shareholder value, is truly a remarkable, perhaps never-to-be-replicated story.”
It all kind of lets one wonder if Sanofi’s long-term plan is to destroy their company from inside because they value Reed so much. I wonder if Sanofi threatened to annihilate any journal daring to correct or even retract his papers?
Supplements against Alzheimer’s
Alzheimer’s happens mostly in old people and hence it is the disease of cellular senescence. And this can, as we all know, be best treated with either senolytics or anti-aging supplements, preferably NAD+ because resveratrol. David Sinclair made $750 million by tricking GSK into buying his resveratrol/NAD+ supplement company Sirtis.
So he is the PNAS paper from the lab of Vilhelm Bohr, who runs two labs translatlantically: at the National Institute on Aging in Baltimore, USA, and at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark.
Yujun Hou , Yong Wei , Sofie Lautrup , Beimeng Yang , Yue Wang , Stephanie Cordonnier , Mark P Mattson , Deborah L Croteau , Vilhelm A Bohr NAD supplementation reduces neuroinflammation and cell senescence in a transgenic mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease via cGAS-STING Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2021) doi: 10.1073/pnas.2011226118
Apparently, those NAD+ supplements not only extend life span, but also cure Alzheimer’s, wow. Niels Bohr’s grandson will now sure get a Nobel prize of his own. Or at least some cash from a NAD+ supplement seller:
“Competing interest statement: V.A.B. has a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) with Chromadex Corporation but receives no personal benefits.”
Ig Nobel Prize has an interesting concept: rewarding science which sounds ridiculous, but is actually quite important: “Research that makes people LAUGH and then THINK“. Unfortunately, sometimes the organisers and the jury jump on the first part and neglect the second because they assume everything published in a peer reviewed journal must be trustworthy science and never, never, clickbait bullshit by incompetent imposters.
So here are some IgNoble winners of 2021:
PEACE PRIZE [USA]:
Ethan Beseris, Steven Naleway, and David Carrier, for testing the hypothesis that humans evolved beards to protect themselves from punches to the face.
REFERENCE: “Impact Protection Potential of Mammalian Hair: Testing the Pugilism Hypothesis for the Evolution of Human Facial Hair,” Ethan A. Beseris, Steven E. Naleway, David R. Carrier, Integrative Organismal Biology, vol. 2, no. 1, 2020, obaa005.
WHO TOOK PART IN THE CEREMONY: Ethan Beseris, Steven Naleway, David Carrier
Oh what an important scientific discovery. Here is the 2020 press release by University of Utah to go with that paper:
“University of Utah biologists used cadaver arms to punch and slap padded dumbbells in experiments supporting a hotly debated theory that our hands evolved not only for manual dexterity, but also so males could fistfight over females.”
If you like that, there was more of the kind from the same lab of Professor David Carrier:
David R. Carrier, Michael H. Morgan Protective buttressing of the hominin face Biological Reviews (2014) doi: 10.1111/brv.12112
There was a university press release on that, too:
“The prehistoric version of a bar fight—over women, resources and other slug-worthy disagreements, new research from the University of Utah scheduled for publication in the journal Biological Reviews on June 9 suggests.
University of Utah biologist David Carrier and Michael H. Morgan, a University of Utah physician, contend that human faces—especially those of our australopith ancestors—evolved to minimize injury from punches to the face during fights between males.”
Or this paper:
Michael H. Morgan, David R. Carrier Protective buttressing of the human fist and the evolution of hominin hands J Exp Biol (2013) doi: 10.1242/jeb.075713
Carrier and Morgan found out:
“Thus, the proportions of the human hand provide a performance advantage when striking with a fist. We propose that the derived proportions of hominin hands reflect, in part, sexual selection to improve fighting performance.”
In a University of Utah press release, Carrier was quoted:
“”In mammals in general,” says U professor David Carrier of the School of Biological Sciences, “the difference between males and females is often greatest in the structures that are used as weapons.“
Yep, a cock fight. Hence the pubic hair, for buttressing.
Church of Church
Another bearded uncle spouting drivel, if you can’t get enough of these. As a Harvard eugenicist (dating app included) and a greedy sod who eagerly sticks his snout in every cash trough, especially when it’s about anti-aging (like BioViva), George Church is admired as a God-figure by his peers and by the so-called science journalists who just love his constant stream of bullshit. Here a bullet-point list of the most recent idiocies, as celebrated by CNBC:
- “Tech entrepreneur Ben Lamm is helping to fund a project by Harvard geneticist George Church to revive the woolly mammoth.
- The project, called Colossal, aims to create a calf in as little as six years, Church told CNBC.
- Proponents also say rewilding the Arctic with lab-grown woolly mammoths could slow global warming by slowing the melting of the permafrost, where methane is currently trapped.“
Church was given whooping $15 million to wank about, with Lamm acts as CEO. That is after Church announced to resurrect dinosaurs by CRISPR gene-engineering chickens and de-extinct Neanderthals because clickbait.
In Church’s head, a Lunatic Park is already open for business where bare-breasted Neanderthal ladies hunt mammoths while riding velociraptors, and you can date them all via proprietary Church of Church app.
Enough of stupid men and their bullshit. Here are some squirrels, and some UC Davis scientists who developed a Meyers-Briggs personality test for them.
Jaclyn R.Aliperti, Brittany E.Davis, Nann A.Fangue, Anne E.Todgham, Dirk H.Van Vuren Bridging animal personality with space use and resource use in a free-ranging population of an asocial ground squirrel Animal Behaviour (2021) doi: 10.1016/j.anbehav.2021.07.019
“Data collected over 3 years showed that individual squirrels consistently differed in activity, sociability, boldness and aggressiveness (adjusted repeatability 0.16–0.44) and that activity was correlated with sociability (posterior mean correlation [95% credible interval] = 0.65 [0.39, 0.87]). We did not find an effect of personality on home range size, but bolder individuals maintained larger core areas than shyer individuals. More active and bolder individuals moved faster under natural conditions compared to their less active and shyer conspecifics. Individuals that scored higher for all four personality traits had more perches in both their home ranges and core areas compared to individuals with lower personality scores. “
So squirrels’ “activity, sociability, boldness and aggressiveness” must then correspond to human extraversion, agreeableness, openness and conscientiousness of the famous Big Five personality traits. But what about the fifth one, neuroticism? More research is needed!
News in Tweets
- It is great to know Nature journalists find my site a useful resource without a need of acknowledgement. All cases described in that article about Swedish NPOF (National Board for Assessment of Research Misconduct) were originally reported on my site (Paolo Macchiarini) or even actually reported to Swedish authorities by me (Karin Dahlman-Wright, Ashutosh Tiwari/Tony Turner and Omer Nur/Magnus Willender affairs in Linköping). This is why Holly Else’s piece is so “fascinating”, so honoured to have been of service!
- Frederique Vidal (French Minister for Research, Education and Gel Band Duplication) is very proud that two of most cited COVID-19 papers came from France. One of these papers is the infamous Gautret et al 2020 by Didier Raoult which set off the chloroquine craze. Vive La France!
- Look what Smut Clyde, Tiger BB8, Elisabeth Bik, Morty and Cheshire achieved: over 600 retractions for fraudulent Chinese paper mill papers. Pity that the anonymous members of the team receive not just zero credit, but even see it attributed to other people.
- In this regard, finally some proper source citation on a recent retraction for Asthana et al 2014, not from a Chinese paper mill, but from the Indian fraud factory by Suresh Vyas.
- Patricia Murray sums up academia in the nutshell: we expect you to publish in Nature, Cell & Science, yet we don’t care how you do it, just don’t get caught.
- An attitude the journals themselves share. Here a correction for fraud, in Nature: “Recently, it has come to our attention that in Fig. 1a of this Letter, lanes 1 and 5 appear to be duplicated and lanes 6 and 10 appear to be duplicated. It is unclear how this happened. […] Our conclusions are unaffected.” (Sakahira et al 2015)
- Who would have thought the paper Kanduc & Shoenfeld 2020 by autoimmunity quack and vaccine sceptic Yehuda Shoenfeld (Member of Israeli Academy of Sciences and President of Ariel University) is crypto-antivaxx pseudoscientific bullshit. The study is so stupid that it insinuates humans were more related to mice than to other primates, and still people give Shoenfeld the honour and debate him scientifically.
- Finally, it’s reassuring to know that whatever happens, even a deadly pandemic which will kill millions and stall the society: Scientists’ first and foremost allegiance is to their peers and grant money, not to some silly concept of “public good”. How that “conspiracy theories” letter in The Lancet against lab leak investigation was made in February 2020 (The Telegraph):