Schneider Shorts of 1 October 2021 – with antivaxxers big and small, Brazilian killers, Dutch research integrity, Russian science kakistocracy, the wonders of peer review, how COVID-19 miracle cures work, and a Twitter scandal of academic fraud which was too good to be true.
Table of Discontent
- Ajan’s new business: Novocyt’s trustworthy COVID-19 tests!
- Brazilian Killers – or how to make the COVID-kit work
- Open Access Antivaxxer: an IGDORE researcher warns humanity
- It’s Just a Preprint: Ottawa cardiologists in a hurry
- The Inventor of mRNA Antivaxxery: Robert Malone
- Smoking helps: a study from Japan
- Dutch Research Integrity: plagiarism again OK!
- Aging “Peer Review”: elites gatekeeping
- “I am an academic fraud”: a Twitter scandal
- NIH and sexual harassment: the Axel Grothey case
- Putin’s Bum-Lickers: meet the director of Kurchatov Institute
- Empathy for Autism: Borat’s cousin in Oxford
Ajan’s new business
Remember that pathological liar Ajan Reginald? Who, together with the greedy Nobelist Sir Martin Evans founded a biomedical scam company Cell Therapy LtD/Celixir which ran rigged clinical trials until Professor Patricia Murray stopped them?
Well, Celixir may be a virtually defunct zombie company, but Ajan’s new job keeps him busy. Apparently he and his new employer Novacyt are about to flood UK with COVID-19 tests. Which must be as perfectly reliable as Ajan is.
“Open Access Government” informs us:
““Novacyt excels in the discovery, design and innovation of new medical diagnostics,” explains Ajan. “We have robust and detailed analysis, and our automated platform analysing more than two million genetic sequences per week to identify mutations – a huge scale up from the 10,000 per week pre-pandemic. And through detailed, diligent analysis, our design team is able to create best-in-class assays designs with ~99% sensitivity and specificity.””
How can you not trust Ajan? There are even diagrams of “clinical evidence”:
““For the moment, our focus is on COVID-19 and coping with the next wave, and we remain fully committed to helping healthcare provides [sic!] deal with the pandemic,” says Ajan. “But we are also addressing other areas of high unmet need – building on our respiratory expertise – including flu, invasive fungal disease and the transplant sector. If you look at our product development pipeline, we’re planning 26 new tests by the end of 2022, and most will be in the post (non) COVID-19 portfolio.“
What a fraudulent invasive fungal disease this man is.
Reuters reports from Brazil:
“A Brazilian hospital chain tested unproven drugs on elderly COVID-19 patients without their knowledge as part of an effort to validate President Jair Bolsonaro’s preferred ‘miracle cure,’ a lawyer for whistleblowing doctors told senators on Tuesday.
At least nine people died of COVID-19 during the trials at the Prevent Senior hospital chain from March to April 2020, but their charts were altered to hide the cause of death, lawyer Bruna Morato told a Senate inquiry.”
The patients were treated with the so-called COVID-kit, which included “hydroxychloroquine, erythromycin and ivermectin”, the idea was to impress Jair Bolsonaro. Aside of covering up deaths, this is how the cure worked:
“Pedro Batista, owner and executive director of the hospital chain, acknowledged in testimony to the Senate inquiry last week that patients’ charts where altered to remove any reference to COVID-19 after they had been hospitalized for two weeks, saying they were no longer a risk of contagion.”
Hattip: Jose Galucci-Neto
“Matinal had access to an opinion from the Commission that authorized the conduct of a clinical research with patients hospitalized by covid-19 only in Brasília. Unbeknownst to Conep itself and other regulatory bodies, such as the National Health Surveillance Agency, Anvisa, the study approved for the federal capital was replicated in 11 other medical units in the states of Amazonas, Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul , irregularly. In the state, the experiment was run at the hospitals of the Brigada Militar de Porto Alegre and at Arcanjo São Miguel, in Gramado.
Signed by endocrinologist Flávio Cadegiani, coordinator of the drug tests in the country, the documents detailing the procedures approved by the agency were reviewed by Applied Biology, the North American clinic that sponsored the study, and published in plataforma Clinical Trials.
The protocols approved by Conep provided for the free supply of contraceptives to all study participants, guidelines for restricting pregnancy for up to three months after discharge from the experiment, and criteria for monitoring these patients, in order to protect them from possible fertility risks caused by the use of the experimental drug, which is still in the initial stages of testing for prostate and breast cancers.
But, after approval, in which Cadegiani undertakes to comply with the requirements, the doctor removed from the Informed Consent Term (FICF), the document signed by the research participants to authorize their inclusion in the study, excerpts related to the rights of the participants research, such as follow-up after discharge and the right to male contraception. In other words: what was on paper, approved by the Commission after Cadegiani’s assurances, was not followed in practice.”
Proxalutamide is an anti-androgenic hormone, and drugs of this kind are known to cause infertility in men and severe congenital malformations in foetuses of pregnant women.
Open Access Antivaxxer
I am never surprised when heroes of the Open Access (OA) movement prove to be less of the heroes. The late Jon Tennant (who died in a midnight motorcycle accident in Bali) was celebrated by everyone (including the Plan S author and former EU Commissioner Robert-Jan Smits), at least up until Tennant was ousted and shunned over accusations of sexual harassment. His sister and other friends at the Bali-based IGDORE (an OA lobby) has been crying conspiracy and even murder ever since.
Now another member of the OA and IGDORE circus revealed their true nature, this time as an all-out antivaxxer and paranoid covidiot. Maybe the fraudulent papers in world’s most beloved OA publisher Frontiers touting ivermectin and proxalutamide helped evolve this connection?
Meet Stefaniia Ivashchenko, Ukraine-born France-based IGDORE “researcher” and founder of Open Science TV , where she interviewed the usual performers of OA circus – the German neuroscience professor and self-plagiarist Björn Brembs and Tennant’s former boss at Science Open, Stephanie Dawson. More recently, Ivashchenko seems to have had less time for her OA crusade because she found something more rewarding.
So here is Dr Ivashchenko’s long blog post (in Russian), which she introduces with:
“During the time of total censorship, fear and propaganda, I, an independent scientist and journalist, can no longer remain silent. I wrote this article in the hope that people will understand the danger of mass vaccination against COVID-19, as an insufficiently studied technique of gene therapy and an imperfect method of immunization, which can subsequently provoke the emergence of very dangerous vaccine-resistant strains of SARS-CoV-2 with high infectivity and mortality. In this article, you will learn about Marek’s disease, the “leaky” vaccination against which made the industrial poultry vaccine-dependent. I will also talk about how modern healthcare is influenced by commercial and political interests. In addition, I will try to highlight the safety and efficacy of anticancer vaccines, which is not only a question of the present, but also the future of all mankind.“
It continues with mixing reality (suspicious irregularities with Sputnik V vaccine) with ivermectin quackery and outright antivaxxery (Pierre Kory, Geert Vanden Bossche and all), and of course the governments and mass media are covering up a vaccine mass murder, evidence of which you can only find on social media (Dr Ivashchenko has endless pictures!).
I think this fits exactly to the kind of people the publisher-sponsored OA movement attracts.
It’s just a Preprint!
A preprint warning of the shockingly high risk of heart inflammation for mRNA vaccines has been withdrawn by its authors from the University of Ottawa Heart Institute.
Tahir Kafil, Mariana M Lamacie, Sophie Chenier, Heather Taggart, Nina Ghosh, Alexander Dick, Gary Small, Peter Liu, Rob S Beanlands, Lisa Mielniczuk, David Birnie, Andrew M Crean, mRNA COVID-19 Vaccination and Development of CMR-confirmed Myopericarditis medRxiv (2021) doi: 10.1101/2021.09.13.21262182
“The preprint study, which was released by researchers at the Ottawa Heart Institute last week but has not been peer-reviewed, looked at the rate of myocarditis and pericarditis cases after Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccinations in Ottawa from June 1 to July 31.
The study identified 32 patients with the rare side effects out of a total of 32,379 doses of mRNA vaccines given in Ottawa in the two-month period, finding an inordinately high rate of close to 1 in 1,000 — significantly higher than other international data has shown.”
They miscalculated, you see:
“Instead of 32,379 mRNA vaccine doses administered in June and July, as the study suggests, there were actually more than 800,000 shots given out at that time, according to Ottawa Public Health. That means the true rate of side effects is closer to 1 in 25,000 — not 1 in 1,000.
“We recalculated the rate, and the rate is not correct in that paper,” said Dr. Peter Liu, scientific director of the Ottawa Heart Institute and a co-author of the study, in an interview with CBC News. “We were doing this on the run, in a way, and we were getting kind of the preliminary vaccination rate data, and so it turns out that that number was not complete.” “
The professors were in such a hurry to warn the world, you must forgive them. The last author Andrew Crean explains that preprints don’t count anyway:
“”As you know, preprints are not full peer-reviewed publications,” he said. “The peer-review process worked quickly and efficiently to detect our error and we were happy to retract this data once the error was confirmed.” “
Imagine if Liu’s and Crean’s students committed such a stupid mistake of miscalculation.
The Inventor of mRNA Antivaxxery
The Atlantic brought already in August 2021 a long read about Robert Malone, who claims to be the inventor of mRNA vaccines (not true) which he says gives him the authority to rage against them, and for that purpose Malone eagerly goes to bed with antivaxxers, quacks and fascists (like Steve Bannon).
“One target of Malone’s ire, the biochemist Katalin Karikó, has been featured in multiple news stories as an mRNA-vaccine pioneer. CNN called her work “the basis of the Covid-19 vaccine” while a New York Times headline said she had “helped shield the world from the coronavirus.” None of those stories mentioned Malone. “I’ve been written out of the history,” he has said. “It’s all about Kati.” Karikó shared with me an email that Malone sent her in June, accusing her of feeding reporters bogus information and inflating her own accomplishments. “This is not going to end well,” Malone’s message says.
Karikó replied that she hadn’t told anyone that she is the inventor of mRNA vaccines and that “many many scientists” contributed to their success. “I have never claimed more than discovering a way to make RNA less inflammatory,” she wrote to him. She told me that Malone referred to himself in an email as her “mentor” and “coach,” though she says they’ve met in person only once, in 1997, when he invited her to give a talk. It’s Malone, according to Karikó, who has been overstating his accomplishments. There are “hundreds of scientists who contributed more to mRNA vaccines than he did.”
Malone insists that his warning to Karikó that “this is not going to end well” was not intended as a threat.
It’s not just antivaxxery of course, Malone goes for the full deal of covidiocy and rejects everything. And he knows what cures work, he even organised a conference for that:
“The International Covid Summit in Rome took place in the Italian Senate and was hosted by Roberta Ferrero, an Italian senator. It concentrated on the question of early treatment protocols for COVID, some of which include Ivermectin and Hydroxychloroquine. The conference opened with a video message from Dr. Vladimir Zelenko, whom Dr. Malone then called a hero who deserves the Nobel Prize for his heroic and effective way of saving the lives of many COVID-19 patients throughout this coronacrisis.”
Malone and Vovka Zelenko an item now? Won’t Raoult be jealous?
Don’t listen to science warning that smokers are more at risk from COVID-19 complications. Smoking protects from the coronavirus, remember the French discovery? I also quote emails sent to me by Jean-Pierre Changeux that a) nicotine does protect against COVID-19, and b) that he never took money from Big Tobacco, don’t believe the lying journalists.
Now the benefit of smoking is confirmed by the scientists from Hiroshima University in Japan:
Keiji Tanimoto, Kiichi Hirota, Takahiro Fukazawa, Yoshiyuki Matsuo, Toshihito Nomura, Nazmul Tanuza, Nobuyuki Hirohashi, Hidemasa Bono & Takemasa Sakaguchi, Inhibiting SARS-CoV-2 infection in vitro by suppressing its receptor, angiotensin-converting enzyme 2, via aryl-hydrocarbon receptor signal, Scientific Reports (2021). DOI: 10.1038/s41598-021-96109-w
Here the university’s press release:
“Active smoking is associated with increased severity of disease, but at the same time, many reports have suggested lower numbers of COVID cases amongst smokers than amongst non-smokers.
“Something strange was going on here,” said Keiji Tanimoto of Hiroshima University’s Research Institute for Radiation Biology and Medicine, the corresponding author of the paper. “But we had a few ideas about how to tease out what some of the mechanisms at work might be.”
“We must stress the presence of strong evidence showing that smoking increases the severity of COVID-19,” Tanimoto added. “But the mechanism we discovered here is worth further investigation as a potential tool to fight SARS-CoV-2 infections.””
The Japanese scientists then found these cigarette smoke components which they say reduce ACE2 expression:
“The first, 6‑formylindolo(3,2‑b)carbazole (FICZ) is derivative of the amino acid tryptophan, and the second, omeprazole (OMP), is a medication already widely used in the treatment of acid reflux and peptic ulcers. […]
In other words, the cigarette smoke extract and these two drugs—all of which act as activators of AHR—are able to suppress the expression of ACE2 in mammalian cells, and by doing so, reduce the ability of the SARS-CoV-2 virus to enter the cell.
Based on the findings in the lab, the team is now proceeding with pre-clinical and clinical trials on the drugs as a novel anti-COVID-19 therapy.”
We are back to the heartburn drugs of the famotidine hype, but now with cigarettes somehow involved. Oh look, a paper by Robert Malone, small world:
Malone et al, COVID-19: Famotidine, Histamine, Mast Cells, and Mechanisms Front. Pharmacol. (2021) doi: 10.3389/fphar.2021.633680
Dutch Research Integrity
Mark Kramer, medicine professor at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and Executive Board member of its Medical Center (UMC), has been accused of plagiarism. The accusations were wrong, you see. Here the university’s statement:
“The Supervisory Board of Amsterdam UMC has asked an external committee to investigate the intranet blogs of Mark Kramer, member of the Executive Board of Amsterdam UMC. This summer it turned out that Mark Kramer used texts for his columns without adequate reference to the source. The Supervisory Board accepts the Committee’s conclusion that repeated careless acts have been committed, but is confident that Mark Kramer will be able to continue his position as Executive Board member in a good manner.”
It then quotes from the Supervisory Board decision:
“In its report, the Hol/Van der Wal Committee indicates that it is conceivable that the Scientific Integrity Committee would have ruled inadmissibility, firstly because it is not a scientific publication and secondly because it concerns an anonymous report. The Supervisory Board has taken this into account in its consideration. ”
Ton Hol, law and economy professor at University of Utrecht, was also the investigator of Dymph van den Boom, the former rector of University of Amsterdam, who was charged with plagiarism in her speeches and PhD dissertation. Hol’s investigation declared van den Boom to be innocent of plagiarism, just sloppy, a decision harshly criticised by many. He argued that van den Boom couldn’t have plagiarised because she did not intend to pass off other’s work as her own, and anyway, the strict plagiarism rules apply only to students who Hol reiterated will be charged with fraud if they do same thing as van den Boom did.
Thus, Ton Hol seems to be like one of these crooked police bosses from the old films, pretending to fight crime while actually working for the gangsters? The Amsterdam UMC Supervisory Board decided, based on Hol’s whitewashing:
“The Supervisory Board also considers it important that Mark Kramer has since provided source references to the relevant blogs, has expressed his regret on the intranet and that there is no reason for a broader investigation into Mark Kramer’s scientific and administrative publications. Finally, the Supervisory Board is of the opinion that Mark Kramer is a good director who performs his management duties competently and professionally and is also valued as such by colleagues, both internally and externally.“
Hattip: Klaas van Dijk
Aging “peer review”
The journal Aging is edited by Misha Blagosklonny and features on its editorial board all the big stars of US biomedicine (many crooks among them, but this is what makes them stars in the first place). Sure, like the other Blagosklonny’s journal Oncotarget, it also attracts massive fraud, and, as Smut Clyde found out, even outright Chinese paper mill fabrications.
But at least you would expect it to be peer-reviewed or edited one way or another, at least so that the fraud appears half-way convincing. No such luck. Here an example, found because of its papermill-fabricated western blots:
Qiu Tang, Zhigang Chen, Liangping Zhao, Hai Xu Circular RNA hsa_circ_0000515 acts as a miR-326 sponge to promote cervical cancer progression through up-regulation of ELK1 Aging (2019) doi: 10.18632/aging.102356
As discussed by Hoya Camphorifolia on PubPeer:
“”The procedures carried out in this study have all been approved by the Ethics Committee of Beijing University of Chinese Medicine Third Affiliated Hospital. All patients signed informed consents before their enrollment in the study. Animal experiments were carried out under the approval of the Animal Ethics Committee of Beijing University of Chinese Medicine Third Affiliated Hospital. All the efforts were made to minimize the animal suffering.”
“Study subjects A total of 63 patients diagnosed with cervical cancer were enrolled in the Beijing University of Chinese Medicine Third Affiliated Hospital“
The authors are affiliated to “Department of Oncology, The Central Hospital of Wuhan, Tongji Medical College, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan”, and “Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics, Wuhan Central Hospital, Wuhan”. I can only suppose that the paper was originally written for some other customer.”
It gets better.
“Hai Xu and Chaoyang Wang designed the study. Yuan Sun collated the data, Yanyun Liu designed and developed the database, Qing Zou carried out data analyses and produced the initial draft of the manuscript. Xinling Feng, Yunbo Li and Hai Xu contributed to drafting the manuscript.“
The authors are listed as Qiu Tang, Zhigang Chen and Liangping Zhao, with Hai Xu (from Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Huangjiahu Hospital, Hubei University of Chinese Medicine, Wuhan) added in a later Correction. Who are Chaoyang Wang, Yuan Sun, Yanyun Liu, Qing Zou, Xinling Feng and Yunbo Li, who apparently did all the work?”
If you recognise the story – Smut Clyde mentioned this case in the following article, for no particular reason:
Each such papermill product earns Blagosklonny and his business partners $3400 (now raised to $3,850). And still they can’t be arsed to pay some copy editors and at least pretend pretend that what Aging publishes is not totally fake.
“I am an academic fraud”
A brief blog post appeared on Reddit and was widely shared on social media. A scandal of research fraud! It was soon deleted, together with the user profile, an even bigger scandal!
Luckily, someone made backups before the author bertyxoq12 deleted the post (here and here). The story is about a white person in an apparently all-Asian lab in USA where everyone is a fraudster but our hero: “individuals all from the same country, with the exception of me“. The hero does honest work, already in their first year they produce a first-author paper for a good journal while all the others keep faking. But then it turns out the PI rigs peer review, our hero ends up “LITERALLY reviewing my own paper“! The sleazy Asian PI (clues suggest a Chinese national) abuses the “Western” name of our hero as “a grammar checker of sorts” to “add significant value to these foreigners papers“, at the end the narrator informs: “I had more papers than most career professors by my 3rd year.”
Experiments are done 200 times, literally, just to cherry-pick the one that fits. But not our hero with integrity: “There was no chance of reporting it to the department or university as he was extremely high profile and had everyone in his pocket. I tried bringing it up once and it was brushed under a rug by the department head.”
Then COVID-19 hits, research stops, and the evil PI blackmails our graduate to manipulate some data, relatively mildly (“to make the two look to be taken with the same parameters as the other 8“), all in order to complete the PhD thesis. At the end, the successful PhD graduate feels remorse, and considers leaving academia:
“I cracked and no better than them. My thesis is published online, and while my supervisor insists on publishing that chapter in a high impact journal, I’m refusing to at all costs. […] I wanted to stay in academia and correct my past mistakes by being a good supervisor and supporting academic integrity, but I now realize that that can’t be possible for me.”
Maybe the story is indeed real, but it is more likely it was all made up. Smut Clyde also shares the suspicion:
“The closed circle of peer-reviewers does not sound plausible. The total absence of ANY specific details also eroded my confidence. The author would not want to be identified, true – but not even a hint of the area of research?! In how many fields can you repeat an experiment 200 times (in order to publish the one successful result)? No fields.“
Right. It’s not like we didn’t have fake scandals about academic abuses before. Like this @anonymousprofs with over 21k followers, who pretends to be a collective but is most obviously just one person, fabricating quips and stories, mostly on the topic of stupid, lazy and evil students who make the lives of their wise professors hell.
And then of course, remember how BethAnn McLaughlin exposed a gun-toting rapist in Vanderbilt and was brutally retaliated against? And then how her lover @Sciencing_Bi tragically died, infected by her university with COVID-19?
Academics are supposed to be the intellectual elite. But they will eagerly fall for any plump fake on social media, and once in a righteous rage attack anyone who doubts. Meanwhile, real-life fraud and abuse in universities is ignored and covered up because the perpetrators are their friends, collaborators and influential peers, while the victims are literally nobodies.
NIH and sexual harassment
The German-born US cancer researcher Axel Grothey used to be a bigwig at the Mayo Clinic and a co-chair of a NCI steering committee, even after he was “disciplined by three states for inappropriate sexual behavior that involved a mentee (The Cancer Letter, May 28, 2021).” Eventually Grothey was forced to resign at Mayo and find a new job, which he did. The sexual harasser is now at West Cancer Center, according to his private Twitter profile he is now “Passionate about justice & tolerance, teaching & educating oncologists, caring for cancer patients, learning from mistakes.“
Now there is a congressional inquiry why NIH did nothing to investigate him. Cancer Letter reports:
“In the Grothey case, two women reported Grothey’s misdeeds to NIH and NCI in April and May 2019, with no results. The NIH Office of Extramural Research sent an automated response to one of the women and never followed up.
Tabak [NIH Principal Deputy Director, -LS] said NIH was unable to conduct an inquiry into allegations of sexual misconduct because Grothey had left Mayo Clinic—an NIH-funded institution—in May 2018, a year before the complaints were filed with NIH, and was no longer “key personnel” on NIH grants. […]
Reportage by The Cancer Letter prompted NCI Director Ned Sharpless to remove Grothey from the NCI National Clinical Trials Network’s Gastrointestinal Steering Committee, which he co-chaired. More than 10 cancer organizations and institutions have censured or barred Grothey (The Cancer Letter, June 4, 2021).
In his letter, Tabak did not describe NIH’s rationale for allowing Grothey to remain on the NCI steering committee until May 27, 2021—two years after the two women filed complaints with NIH, and a year after medical boards in Minnesota, Tennessee and Arizona issued reprimands against Grothey.”
In Putin’s Russia of warmongering nationalism and totalitarian paranoia, science is unfortunately a kakistokracy. Thieving nepotistic bum-lickers rise to the top, from where they denounce the rotting West while promising the most ridiculous sci-fi phantasies to the nation.
So here is Mikhail Kovaltchuk, director of one of Russia’s top research centres, the Kurchatov Institute, interviewed by Russian TV’s own Goebbels, Dmitry Kiselyov. Kovaltchuk is quoted by The Insider:
“What is thermonuclear fusion? This is an artificial sun. And we are offering it to the world. We proposed a project. Russia, Kurchatov Institute, I dare say. In the 50s, the principle of magnetic plasma confinement was formulated at the Kurchatov Institute. […]
I will move on to my favourite topic – alternative energy. If this is not a hoax, then this is also a complex story, a scam. Here I will give you an example. Of course, everyone thinks the sun is great. But here you are driving in Germany, it is covered all with solar panels. This means that you are closing the fertile land, your ecology is being violated. It’s one thing – you put it on the roof, but you close the fertile fields, so land is needed, so they go to Ukraine. They will sow it now with everything. Rapeseed or something else.
Here is wind power. What is wind? There is a wind generator. The wind turns it, and it generates electricity. It spins at 4 hertz. This is infrasound. Infrasound is a weapon, there is a military infrasound generator. This means that from what you let in, moles come out of their holes, birds fall down on the fly. You have to understand this. The ecology is definitely suffering.”
The Kurchatov Institute director (whose billionaire brother Yury Kovalchuk acts as “Putin’s personal banker“) somehow managed to bring in Germany and Ukraine into this already idiotic conspiracy theory, because of course WWII is still on and Russia is still fighting the fascists all by itself.
With scientific elites like this in charge, no wonder Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine is such a mess, with WHO and EMA refusing approval. Btw, Kiselyov is not just a pathological liar, warmongering racist, homophobe and otherwise a disgusting character, he is also a covidiot antivaxxer who kept scaring Russians that the AstraZeneca vaccine turns people into monkeys.
Empathy for Autism
An autism genomics study in UK (Spectrum 10K), funded with £3-million and designed to collect DNA from 10,000 people with autism and their families, has been suspended. One reason is that it is led by Simon Baron-Cohen, Cambridge professor and the unfunny cousin of the comedian Sacha Baron-Cohen who once postulated that men are more intelligent than women (i.e., the Oxford professor did that, not Borat). Nature reports:
“Even before Spectrum 10K launched, some people with autism were uncomfortable with aspects of Baron-Cohen’s research. He developed and popularized the controversial ‘extreme male brain’ theory of ASD, which is based on the idea that, on average, males are better than females at ‘systematizing’ — recognizing patterns, and sticking to rules — whereas females are better at empathizing. Behaviour seen in people with autism, Baron-Cohen asserts, sits firmly at the male end of this continuum.
“I think Simon has made some really prominent contributions to autism theory,” says Sue Fletcher-Watson, a psychologist at the University of Edinburgh, UK, who studies ASD. But “there’s a component of suggesting that autistic people don’t have empathy”, she says. “That has been extremely damaging and stigmatizing for autistic people, and is very much at odds with many autistic people’s lived experience, which is often a sort of uncontrollable excess of empathy.”
News in Tweets
- Remember Piero Anversa? How can anyone can forget that mega-fraudster who poisoned cardiology and stem cells research for decades, before being kicked out in Harvard, with masses of retractions following. Anversa was close to 80 when that happened, but he refused to retire and started anew at Cardiocentro Ticino in Switzerland, as I once found out (he was joined there by his
lady friendpartner-in-fraud Annarosa Leri). Cheshire spotted another fake paper of theirs (Linke et al PNAS 2005). Like many other mentees of Anversa, also this first author Axel Linke made a stellar academic career, not despite but exactly because his association with Anversa. Linke is now professor at the university of Dresden and head of the heart clinic there. Neither he nor his medical school replied to my email.
- Former Athira Pharma CEO Leen Kawas is in big trouble, four of her papers at the Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics received expressions of concern. The editors write they “shared these concerns with the corresponding author and their institution, Washington State University, and will await the results of an inquiry to determine appropriate next steps.” Read more about the affair here.
- Netherlands has indeed the best research integrity investigations in the world. Huls et al 2010 from Radboud University Nijmegen has been retracted, although the institutional “investigation found no primary actor responsible for the possible honest errors or manipulation of the figures.” The figures faked themselves, while the Dutch authors “support the decision to retract the article, while expressing their view that these issues did not affect the major conclusions.”
- The scientific masterpiece Khakyzadeh et al 2021 (which previously passed peer review at the Royal Society of Chemistry) has now been retracted: “We, the named authors, hereby wholly retract this RSC Advances article. Although we maintain that the results obtained in distilled water are accurate, and believe that further experiments will confirm our conclusions, following discussions between the authors and the Royal Society of Chemistry, we have determined that the evidence presented regarding magnetised water in this paper is insufficient to support the conclusions and needs further investigation.” I personally find this unfair – if RSC defends Traditional Chinese Medicine as science, then they also must accept magnetized water.
- Professor Paola Bressan, University of Padua, Italy: “Men with light eyes lack the dominant gene allele that codes for dark-brown eyes. Pairing with a woman who lacks the same allele must increase paternity confidence in these men, because any children with dark eyes would be extremely unlikely to have been fathered by them. This notion implies that men with light (blue or green) eyes should (1) prefer light-eyed women, especially in a long-term context, and (2) feel more threatened by light-eyed than by dark-eyed rivals.” Bressan, Arch Sex Behav 2021