Schneider Shorts of 24 September 2021: from Chronic Lyme quackery to full-blown QAnon-style covidiocy, clickbait science of varying silliness, a journal run by dumb crooks, the academic reward system, what’s wrong with the trees, furin cleavage site in Wuhan, and a German professor who officially contributed nothing to his own papers with fake data.
Table of Discontent
Updates on For Better Science
- Perronne, the Antivax Covidiot: France is proud
- Cash for Kabanov: nanotheranostics work!
- Victim as Perpetrators, the Sequel: Balkan journal of crookery
- How many retractions for Xiangke Wang?
- Ya Wang and George Iliakis: one sanctioned, the other innocent
- Say Cheese! It’s good for your heart
- Salty tumours, or how Science Advances
- Machine-learned autism: face prediction
- Blood, sweat and tears on Mars, without COI
- The REAL source of carbon emissions: press releases are fun
Updates on For Better Science
Perronne, the Antivax Covidiot
Who is surprised that Christian Perronne, professor of infectious diseases at the University of Versailles-St Quentin in Paris, France, Chronic Lyme Disease and chloroquine quack, friend of Didier Raoult and a constant fixture on French TV, is also an unashamed antivaxxer?
In August 2021, Perronne, who once had a high position at WHO and even led France’s National Consultation Group on Vaccination, gave an interview to UK Column, where he was joined by a Anne-Marie Yim, an even more unhinged and paranoid quack than he is, imagine that. In my updated article, I quote Perronne’s comments on COVID-19 vaccines and quack cures. This is the craziest snippet, much popular on social media:
“Vaccinated people are at risk of the new variants. In transmission, it’s been proven now in several countries that vaccinated people should be put in quarantine and isolated from society. Unvaccinated people are not dangerous; vaccinated people are dangerous to others.“
Perronne goes on promoting chloroquine, ivermectin and supplements as COVID-19 therapies while raving against vaccines, facemasks, lockdown measures, randomised controlled clinical trials, and yes, he is also a PCR-Test-Truther.
His main message: VACCINES ARE MASS MURDER, and the governments are controlled by Gilead shills (cue: remdesivir) who feed us fake death stats to cover up a vaccine holocaust.
“In all the countries with massive inoculation of these products (I don’t like the term “vaccination”), we see that you have a recurrence of the epidemic, with new cases of death.”
Perronne also claims scientists were intentionally murdering patients with deadly chloroquine doses to prove that the drug doesn’t work. All part of his own version of QAanon and Pizzagate. He demands:
“First of all, I would stop the so-called “vaccination” campaign. I would promote, among general practitioners, early treatment with ivermectin, zinc, Vitamin C and Doxycycline or azithromycin.“
So much for France to be proud of.
Cash for Kabanov
Here a brief pointer for my readers in academia on how to get million-heavy research grants.
A recent press release by the Eshelman School of Pharmacy, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill in USA:
Alexander Kabanov receives millions from NIH to develop effective therapeutics for triple-negative breast cancer
“Alexander “Sasha” Kabanov, Ph.D., Dr.Sci., recently received funding from the National Institutes of Health’s National Cancer Institute to help combat triple-negative breast cancer, a disease that has fewer treatment options than other types of breast cancer.
The four-year funding totaling $2,452,236 will support his project, “Toward Translation of Nanoformulated Paclitaxel-Platinum Combination.”
Yet, the cure for cancer lies with nanoparticles, what else. Kabanov is quoted:
“This funding will help to advance discoveries toward clinical drug products,” Kabanov said. “My hope is to develop better medicines to treat triple-negative breast cancer.”
The advanced nanotheranostics technology to be deployed will be even more advanced than you imagine:
Now you know why your pathetic little grant application was rejected, while Sasha Kabanov just got $ 2.5 million. You failed scientist.
Victims as Perpetrators, the Sequel
A Greek-Serbian oncology journal which first first exposed by Smut Clyde for publishing massive Chinese papermill fraud, then caught by Smut Clyde by stealthily correcting it, repeatedly replacing the pdfs, now has eventually figured out they look both very stupid and like utter crooks.
Smut Clyde comments:
“Retractions continue apace at J. BUOn! Seven retractions in the July / August 2021 issue, and 10 Expressions of Concern in the May / June issue.
The repeated refrain continues: “We sent emails to the authors with a request to provide the raw data to prove the originality, but received no reply”. This is curious, as the retracted or concerning papers had undergone a stealth correction to replace a fabricated image with something less obviously faked… or two corrections… or in the case of Zhu et al (2020), three stealth amendments in response to Pubpeer critiques of earlier revisions. So who was providing the replacement images, if the authors were not communicating??
In all cases, the papers were reverted to the original versions before their retraction or Expression of Concern, in a pretense that those revisions never happened.
HHIP gene: https://pubpeer.com/publications/84EAE1029A59A777FBBB84A90DABE8
How many retractions?
Xiangke Wang is professor at the Chinese Academy of Sciences and North China Electrical Power University (NCEPU) and a mega-villain of research fraud, with 80 papers on PubPeer. I never published an article about him, only about his subordinate:
Much of Wang’s fraud was found by PubPeer user Thallarcha Lechrioleuca, by googling images of fake spectra in research papers.
A number of Wang’s papers were corrected, for example by ACS, where research fraud is seen as a minor nuisance which never affects the conclusions. According to Google Scholar, over
30 of Wang’s papers were retracted [Update and Correction: it’s actually 17 retractions, not 30, a reader who notified me miscounted. I apologise for misinformation]. But not according to world’s top authority, Retraction Watch, whose retraction database (funded with $700k) records merely 14 retractions for Xiangke Wang. A Retraction Watch article from 17 September 2021 reported what was allegedly Wang’s 14th retraction:
“The senior author was Xiangke Wang, whose tally of PubPeer entries is now at 76 and who now has 14 retractions.“
The article also mentions that “an email to Wang bounced back“. Maybe he stopped working as professor at NCEPU? Rumours go, Wang was handed a new job recruited at Shaoxing University, via his former student Baowei Hu, who is the Dean of the School of Life Science there.
In any case, Wang is now a businessman who just set up a company, as Tiger BB8 has discovered. The company is called Shaoxing Haoyu Biochar Research Institute Co, and was founded in September 2020 by Wang Xiangke with a capital of 10 million yuan. It specialises on
“Biomass carbonization technology development, technical services, technology transfer ; Research and development of biochar production process and process; Biochar process Product research and development; production: biochar, biochar handicrafts; commission.”
And Photoshop fraud, surely?
Ya Wang and George Iliakis
Retraction Watch also reported about another scientist, also named Wang, but female and in USA, who was found guilty of research fraud by HHS-ORI:
“Ya Wang, who retired from Emory a year ago, “falsified protein immunoblot data by reusing and relabeling the same images to represent different experimental conditions in mammalian tissue culture models of DNA damage and repair in eighteen (18) figure panels in eleven (11) figures in one (1) grant application and six (6) published papers,” the ORI said.
Wang “neither admits nor denies” ORI’s findings of misconduct, according to the agency’s report on the case. She agreed to a four-year ban on any federal funding, and to correct or retract four papers…
As it happens, none of these four papers feature a certain former collaborator of Ya Wang: George Iliakis, professor at the University of Duisburg-Essen in Germany. But this one, already retracted, does:
Wang , J Guan , B Hu , RS Weiss , G Iliakis , Y Wang Involvement of Hus1 in the chain elongation step of DNA replication after exposure to camptothecin or ionizing radiation Nucleic Acids Research (2004) doi: 10.1093/nar/gk
So what did the University of Duisburg-Essen determine for Iliakis?
In April 2020, the university’s Ombudsman Ulrich Dührsen informed me:
“My investigation showed that the experiments described in the papers were carried out exclusively at the Thomas Jefferson University of Philadelphia. In no case was any data reported that was generated at the University of Duisburg-Essen.
During his time in Philadelphia, Prof. Iliakis was involved in the collection of data and their graphical representation for two of the total of nine publications. In a case that Prof. Iliakis has already commented on in PubPeer and which will shortly be explained in more detail with further information, in my opinion there was no reliable evidence of scientific misconduct [Guan et al 2020, the only one not with Ya Wang, -LS]. In the second case, as you and PubPeer suspect, several images were actually manipulated. An employee of Prof. Iliakis from his period of employment in Philadelphia confessed to this. The journal was informed of this fact, and the editor’s reaction to this misconduct will be published shortly [the retracted Wang et al 2004, the confessor being presumably Jun Guan, -LS].
In seven publications, Prof. Iliakis’ contribution was limited to assistance in embedding the results in the scientific knowledge and editing the text for an English-language journal. Prof. Iliakis was not involved in obtaining the research results and their graphic representation. He stated that at the time the manuscripts were prepared, he had no reason to believe that the data had been tampered with. The last author on this work was Prof. Ya Wang, who, after Prof. Iliakis moved to Essen in 2001, took over the management of the Department of Radiation Oncology at the Thomas Jefferson University of Philadelphia and later moved to the Emory University of Atlanta.
In summary, most of the evidence of scientific misconduct you have compiled was understandable to me. In no case were there any indications of an active role by Prof. Iliakis or his Essen working group in the suspected data manipulation. The investigation at the University of Duisburg-Essen was therefore terminated. At the same time, the ombudspersons of the Thomas Jefferson University of Philadelphia and the Emory University of Atlanta were informed of the suspected data manipulation.“
Back then, I was asked to treat this information confidentially, but now I informed Dührsen that I intend to publish the above statement to inform my readers, unless he has any updates. Dührsen, who despite retirement remains the university’s Ombudsman, hinted that nothing changed since. Meaning, Iliakis was never investigated for the research he used to obtain grants and a professorship in Germany.
The guideline of the University Duisburg-Essen which the university itself provided me with, defines in §6g “Scientific Misconduct” as
“Active participation in the misconduct of others, especially
- through collusive collaboration in the case of forgeries committed by others, or
- through the co-authorship of publications containing falsifications“
I guess this applies to students only.
Cheese is truly the magic medicine. Not only does it work against COVID-19, cheese also prevents heart disease!
The Guardian, science’s highest authority, explains:
“Researchers assessed dairy fat intake in 4,150 Swedish 60-year-olds by measuring the blood concentration of certain fatty acids that are found in dairy foods. They followed the participants for an average of 16.6 years, recording how many died or had heart attacks, strokes and other cardiovascular conditions.
Cardiovascular disease risk was the lowest for participants who had high levels of the dairy fatty acids. The researchers also found that higher intakes of dairy fat were not associated with an increased risk of death.”
Here is this breakthrough study led by Australian scientists:
Kathy Trieu , Saiuj Bhat , Zhaoli Dai , Karin Leander , Bruna Gigante , Frank Qian , Andres V. Ardisson Korat , Qi Sun , Xiong-Fei Pan , Federica Laguzzi , Tommy Cederholm , Ulf De Faire , Mai-Lis Hellénius , Jason H. Y. Wu , Ulf Risérus , Matti Marklund Biomarkers of dairy fat intake, incident cardiovascular disease, and all-cause mortality: A cohort study, systematic review, and meta-analysis PLoS Medicine (2021) doi: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1003763
A typical Guardian reader is a middle-class caviar-communist connoisseur of expensive cheeses, so they are preaching to the converted. Avoid butter though, is the cheese which does the magic:
“Cheeses include vitamin K, and these may be linked with cardioprotective benefits,” Trieu said, adding that more research was needed to understand the link between dairy foods and heart health. […]
A large 2018 study, conducted in 21 mainly low and middle-income countries, similarly found that consumption of dairy products may protect against heart disease and stroke.”
Science has spoken. Go eat cheese. Now.
Cheese is salty. Which is great! Don’t listen to anti-science anti-salt propaganda.
The press release site Medical Xpress informs of a discovery from India that salty diet cures cancer:
“A team of researchers at the Translational Health Science and Technology Institute has found evidence that suggests adding salt to the mouse diet can suppress the growth of cancerous tumors. In their paper published in the journal Science Advances, the group describes feeding tumor-afflicted lab mice a high-sodium diet and compared their ability to suppress tumor growth with mice on a normal diet.
For many years, doctors have been warning patients to cut down on the amount of salt in their diet. Prior research has shown that a high-sodium diet can lead to inflammation, high blood pressure and an increased risk of a heart attack. In this new effort, the researchers wondered if the inflammation from a high-salt diet may also confer positive health benefits, such as fighting cancerous tumors.”
Can’t argue with Science (Advances):
Zaigham Abbas Rizvi , Rajdeep Dalal , Srikanth Sadhu , Yashwant Kumar , Shakti Kumar , Sonu Kumar Gupta , Manas Ranjan Tripathy , Deepak Kumar Rathore , Amit Awasthi High-salt diet mediates interplay between NK cells and gut microbiota to induce potent tumor immunity Science Advances (2021) doi: 10.1126/sciadv.abg5016
Here is the mechanism:
“A closer look showed that the high-sodium diet made the gut barrier leakier, allowing Bifidobacteria to move from the gut to the sites where tumors were located. They also found that once the Bifidobacteria made their way to a tumor, crosstalk between them and the immune cells that were attacking the tumor resulted in a more successful attack.
The researchers also found that a low-sodium diet worked in conjunction with several cancer-fighting drugs, showing an increased ability to reduce tumor growth. And they also found that conducting fecal transplants from mice on a high-sodium diet to those on a normal diet also improved their ability to fight tumor growth.”
Did you know autism can be diagnosed from the face? You didn’t? Well, science determined not just form the face of the autistic child, but even from the child’s parents! Tech Explorist brings big news, also from Australia:
“ECU School of Science Research Fellow Dr. Syed Zulqarnian Gilani said, “These findings suggest there could be a link between the genes which affect the likelihood of an individual having greater facial asymmetry and Autism. By using these cutting-edge 3D scans of faces combined with machine learning techniques, we can distinguish between thousands of subtle differences in faces to determine an overall facial asymmetry score.”
“When we compared those scores, we saw that faces of parents of autistic children were more likely to have higher asymmetry compared to other adults.”
This is the paper:
Diana Weiting Tan, Syed Zulqarnain Gilani, Maryam Boutros, Gail A. Alvares, Andrew J. O. Whitehouse, Ajmal Mian, David Suter, Murray T. Mayberry. Facial asymmetry in parents of children on the autism spectrum. Autism Research, 2021; DOI: 10.1002/aur.2612
Remember that old theory that autism is a disease of excessive masculinity? Can’t argue with AI:
“Dr. Diana Tan, the project’s lead author, said, “Autism is not traditionally known to be a condition with distinctive facial features, but our research has challenged this notion. Our study provided evidence that the genetic factors leading to the development of Autism may also express in physical characteristics, which leads to our understanding of the interplay between genes, physical and brain development in humans.“
“We previously examined another facial marker — facial masculinity — that was associated with Autism. The next step of this project would be to evaluate the usefulness of combining facial asymmetry and masculinity in determining the likelihood of autism diagnosis.”
Blood, sweat and tears on Mars
I don’t even have to make fun of this scientific announcement, it does the work all by itself. A press release from the University of Manchester, UK, announces:
“Transporting a single brick to Mars can cost more than a million British pounds – making the future construction of a Martian colony seem prohibitively expensive. Scientists at The University of Manchester have now developed a way to potentially overcome this problem, by creating a concrete-like material made of extra-terrestrial dust along with the blood, sweat and tears of astronauts.
In their study, published in Materials Today Bio, a protein from human blood, combined with a compound from urine, sweat or tears, could glue together simulated moon or Mars soil to produce a material stronger than ordinary concrete, perfectly suited for construction work in extra-terrestrial environments.
This is the paper:
A.D. Roberts , D.R. Whittall , R. Breitling , E. Takano , J.J. Blaker , S. Hay , N.S. Scrutton Blood, sweat, and tears: extraterrestrial regolith biocomposites with in vivo binders Materials Today Bio (2021) doi: 10.1016/j.mtbio.2021.100136
The press release quotes author Aled Deakin Roberts, owner of the company Deakin Bio-hybrid Materials, who still somehow declares “no known competing financial interests or personal relationships that could have appeared to influence the work reported in this paper“:
“Scientists have been trying to develop viable technologies to produce concrete-like materials on the surface of Mars, but we never stopped to think that the answer might be inside us all along”, he said.
The scientists calculate that over 500 kg of high-strength AstroCrete could be produced over the course of a two-year mission on the surface of Mars by a crew of six astronauts. If used as a mortar for sandbags or heat-fused regolith bricks, each crew member could produce enough AstroCrete to expand the habitat to support an additional crew member, doubling the housing available with each successive mission.”
The REAL source of carbon emissions
Australian science is apparently the best, they now also determined what really causes global warming by being the biggest source of CO2 emissions. Now, Australia is world’s biggest exporter of coal, can you guess what the Australian scientists discovered now?
It’s the trees, the friggin’ forests. Cut them all down and turn them into toothpicks and toilet paper if you want to save the planet.
A press release from the Australian National University:
“Decaying wood releases around 10.9 gigatons of carbon worldwide every year, according to a new study by an international team of scientists. This is roughly equivalent to 115 percent of fossil fuel emissions.
Co-author of the study Professor David Lindenmayer from The Australian National University (ANU) says it’s the first time researchers have been able to quantify the contribution of deadwood to the global carbon cycle.
“Until now, little has been known about the role of dead trees,” Professor Lindenmayer said. “We know living trees play a vital role in absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. But up until now, we didn’t know what happens when those trees decompose. It turns out, it has a massive impact.”
Cut down the forests, drench everything in DDT and glyphosate, or humanity is doomed! Destroy the nature before it destroys the planet!
““We knew insects such as termites and wood-boring Longicorn beetles can accelerate deadwood decomposition,” study co-author Dr. Marisa Stone from Griffith University said. “But until now, we didn’t know how much they contribute to deadwood carbon release globally.
“Insects accounted for 29% of deadwood carbon release each year. However, their role was disproportionately greater within the tropics and had little effect in regions of low temperatures.””
You see, the Amazon and other tropical forests were always the problem! And those Greta-Thunberg lobbyists for Big Green are protesting against their removal!
Actually, the study is from Germany, which makes me immensely proud. This natural forest where I live, with its rotting logs and buzzing insects? Cut it all down, turn it into a parking lot for SUV!
“The study was led by Dr. Sebastian Seibold from the Technical University of Munich. “At a time of global change, we can see some dramatic declines in biodiversity and changes in climate,” Dr. Seibold said. “This study has demonstrated that both climate change and the loss of insects have the potential to alter the decomposition of wood, and therefore, carbon and nutrient cycles worldwide.”
The study has been published in Nature.
Sebastian Seibold, Werner Rammer, Torsten Hothorn, Rupert Seidl, Michael D. Ulyshen, Janina Lorz, Marc W. Cadotte, David B. Lindenmayer, Yagya P. Adhikari, Roxana Aragón, Soyeon Bae, Petr Baldrian, Hassan Barimani Varandi, Jos Barlow, Claus Bässler, Jacques Beauchêne, Erika Berenguer, Rodrigo S. Bergamin, Tone Birkemoe, Gergely Boros, Roland Brandl, Hervé Brustel, Philip J. Burton, Yvonne T. Cakpo-Tossou, Jorge Castro, Eugénie Cateau, Tyler P. Cobb, Nina Farwig, Romina D. Fernández, Jennifer Firn, Kee Seng Gan, Grizelle González, Martin M. Gossner, Jan C. Habel, Christian Hébert, Christoph Heibl, Osmo Heikkala, Andreas Hemp, Claudia Hemp, Joakim Hjältén, Stefan Hotes, Jari Kouki, Thibault Lachat, Jie Liu, Yu Liu, Ya-Huang Luo, Damasa M. Macandog, Pablo E. Martina, Sharif A. Mukul, Baatarbileg Nachin, Kurtis Nisbet, John O’Halloran, Anne Oxbrough, Jeev Nath Pandey, Tomáš Pavlíček, Stephen M. Pawson, Jacques S. Rakotondranary, Jean-Baptiste Ramanamanjato, Liana Rossi, Jürgen Schmidl, Mark Schulze, Stephen Seaton, Marisa J. Stone, Nigel E. Stork, Byambagerel Suran, Anne Sverdrup-Thygeson, Simon Thorn, Ganesh Thyagarajan, Timothy J. Wardlaw, Wolfgang W. Weisser, Sungsoo Yoon, Naili Zhang and Jörg Müller, The contribution of insects to global forest deadwood decomposition Nature (2021) DOI: 10.1038/s41586-021-03740-8
The real joke is that the cited authors are actually known to be anti-logging environmentalists. So I wrote to the lead author Sebastian Seibold at TU Munich, who explained:
“unfortunately you have grossly misunderstood our paper. It is correct that the amount of C that is converted annually when wood is degraded exceeds the amount of C that we release through the combustion of fossil fuels. But that does not mean that forests are responsible for climate change. Deadwood is part of the natural carbon cycle, which means that the amounts of C emitted into the air are reabsorbed by the vegetation. Another part of the C goes into the ground and is stored there.
Our emissions from fossil fuels, on the other hand, are a constant addition to the natural C-cycles and are therefore responsible for climate change.”
I pointed out that this is not what the press release or the abstract of his paywalled paper say. Seibold then sent me the paper’s pdf and reiterated what he said above.
News in Tweets
- Look what kind of interesting research Peter Daszak’s EcoHealth Alliance announced with the Wuhan Institute of Virology before the pandemic. Introducing furin cleavage sites into SARS coronaviruses, according to this grant proposal from 2018. Ho-hum. But no, a lab leak origin of COVID-19 is a conspiracy theory and highly unlikely, as Daszak previously convinced almost everyone.
- Ivermectin research for COVID-19 is fraudulent, who knew. Now a correspondence article in Nature Medicine by a team of well-known data sleuths (Jack Lawrence, Gid Meyerowitz-Katz, James Heathers, Nick Brown & Kyle Sheldrick). Thing is, lots of research in Nature Medicine is fraudulent, and the journal does nothing about it.
- Reimund Neugebauer, president of the state-owned German society for applied research, Fraunhofer, is accused of dictatorial leadership style and nepotism, even an art exhibition of his wife was paid from Fraunhofer funds. Politicians demand an investigation (paywalled report by Wirtschaftswoche, here summary by taz, in German). Frauhofer press speaker threatened that Fraunhofer will sue journalists to defend Neugebauer’s honour. They sure have enough public money at their disposal for that!
- Another fake paper for the French-Australian handball pro and trash neuroscientist “Sir” Gilles Guillemin (read here), who, just as Iliakis, never has contributed any data to his own papers. This time, the Macquarie University professor and his UNSW colleagues claimed pomegranates can cure Alzheimer’s, with fake western blots as adjuvant (Braidy et al Oncotarget 2016).
- What a paper: “we consider whether oral traditions about the destruction of this urban city by a cosmic object might be the source of the written version of Sodom in Genesis. We also consider whether the details recounted in Genesis are a reasonable match for the known details of a cosmic impact event.” Bunch et al Scientific Reports 2021
- Indian clinical researcher Cyriac Abby Philips fights quackery in Ayurveda and supplement industry. For that, he was harassed by lawyers of Herbalife who forced a retraction of his case report study about toxic contaminants which do kill people in India. Now the Indian Ministry for AYUSH (Quackery, Superstition, Hindu-Fascism-Folklore and other Homicidal Idiocies) annnounced to sue Philips for defaming Ayurveda.
- Fallen star of cancer and aging research David Sabatini (sacked by Whitehead Institute for sexual harassment, read here) has been awarded in a pompous ceremony in Spain on 21.09.2021. Sabatini was supposed to receive the BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award already last year, when he was on the apex of his fame, but due to COVID-19 the last and this year’s ceremonies are hosted together. Oops.
- What is it with Australia? The national funding agency Australian Research Council (ARC) “has backtracked on a rule that banned the mention of preprints in grant applications, […] nearly four weeks after an anonymous researcher behind the ARC Tracker account on Twitter revealed that dozens of applications for early-career funding schemes had been rejected for citing preprints. More than 30 applications, worth Aus$22 million (US$16 million), were ruled ineligible. Several rejected applicants, who can’t apply again because fellowship-application attempts are limited, told Nature last month that the decision had effectively ended their careers.” (Nature)
- “Landing footage of the Chinese spacecraft Shenzhou 12 revealed to be similar to a movie clip and faked? On September 17, the video of the spacecraft parachute unfolding released by the Chinese authorities was very similar to the clip in the movie “Gravity”, with almost no difference. According to the video posted by netizens, not only the patterns of the parachutes are red and white, but also the cloud layout is almost exactly the same.” (Timed News, Hat-tip Tiger BB8)