Schneider Shorts of 8 April 2022 – antler baths and crazy inventions for diseased Führer Putin, Russia’s’ academic self-boycott, with a Fauci advisor on a race to the bottom, an ex-MIT sexual harasser, how Nature Comms helped a German cheater sue the DFG, and why toxoplasma infection is good for you.
Table of Discontent
Russia’s War on Ukraine
- Putin’s Health – Russian dissident journalists hope for thyroid cancer
- Publishers’ pretend-boycott – Elsevier, Springer Nature et al deny Russia some services
- Russians banned from conferences – not on our side, but by Putin
- Flying claptrap – Russian Academy of Sciences president reports to his Führer
- Sabatini loses MIT professorship – but the sexual harasser still has friends
- Nature Comms helps Birbaumer sue the DFG – a decisive paper despite misconduct findings
- Another Voit retraction – Leibniz investigation ends, results soon
- Toxoplasma benefits – infection makes you both smarter and sexier
- Eat prunes! – says a conference abstract
- The Andersen Conspiracy – an anti-lab-leak-theory virologist on a race to the bottom
Russia’s War on Ukraine
Russian dissident journalists of Proekt brought a special report on Putin#s health situation, with the hope that the war criminal, aged 69, will hopefully die soon. Possibly of thyroid cancer.
“…over the years, it is not so much Putin who visits doctors in the Central Clinical Hospital, as it is they who visit him: the doctors fly to Putin’s residences and accompany him on his trips. And these trips provide a unique opportunity to understand what Putin is being treated for and who does it. […]
Oncologist-surgeon Evgeny Selivanov is one of the most frequent medical attendants of Putin. Over the course of four years, the doctor has flown to him 35 times and spent a total of 166 days with the head of state. He was present near Putin both during his official stay in Sochi and during the head of state’s “disappearances”. In August 2017, Putin disappeared from the public eye for a long time, from August 8 to 16. All this time six medics were in Sochi, including otolaryngologist Shcheglov and oncology surgeon Selivanov.
Only otolaryngologists Igor Esakov and Alexey Shcheglov fly to Putin more often than the oncology surgeon — the latter has flown to him 59 times and stayed by his side for 282 days. All three of them work together very often — in four years they have been to Sochi at least 18 times.”
Aside of the suspected thyroid cancer, there are other ailments Putin seems to have. No wonder everyone has to stay at least 4 meters away from him, and those who get closer must spend 2 weeks in quarantine and supply COVID-19 PCR results and, last but not least, stool tests.
Proekt also found out that it is not just classical medicine Putin surrounds himself with:
“In spring, Altai red deer horns, or antlers, grow at an enormous rate of several centimeters a day. At this moment the antlers are not yet ossified, they are soft and full of blood. Extract from these horns is said to have a therapeutic effect (people supposedly benefit from antler baths), so there is a whole industry for the extraction of pantocrine . For this purpose, red deer are tied or clamped on a special machine, lifted so that they hang helplessly, and the living horns are cut off — often with an ordinary hacksaw. Animal rights activists compare the experience of animals to the torture of pulling out a person’s fingernails.
Sergei Shoigu, the then head of the Ministry of Emergency Situations, was the first person in the Russian elite to become interested in antler baths. In the mid-2000s, Shoigu brought Putin to Altai for the first time, convincing him of the benefits of this treatment, which supposedly improves the cardiovascular system and rejuvenates the skin. On one of his trips, Putin, who was starting to think more about his health, immersed himself in a bathtub containing an odorant extract from blood-filled deer antlers. An acquaintance of the president claims that he had been warned that there is no conclusive evidence of the benefits of antler baths. But Putin liked it, and since then he has revisited Altai multiple times”
A bunch of scholarly publishers issued this statement:
“We the undersigned jointly condemn the war in Ukraine and call for a stop to any more senseless loss of life. We are shocked and saddened by the humanitarian crisis.
We have taken the unprecedented step of suspending sales and marketing of products and services to research organisations in Russia and Belarus. We join other organisations globally that are acting to bring about an end to this aggression and to restore peace.
As individual organisations, we are working to aid affected colleagues and contractors, while contributing to broader relief efforts that are providing safety and support for those in peril including Ukrainian researchers.
We remain committed to the ideals of science and scholarship as a global community. Our actions are not targeted at Russian researchers, but rather at research organisations in Russia and Belarus. This is why we continue to publish and distribute manuscripts from authors in these countries in the independent way set out in the COPE guidelines for research which states: “Editorial decisions should not be affected by the origins of the manuscript, including the nationality, ethnicity, political beliefs, race, or religion of the authors.”
Given the rapidly changing situation we will continue to evaluate our positions on an ongoing basis.
It is signed by Elsevier, Springer Nature, ACS Publications and several other scholarly publishers. Notably absent are for example Wiley and Taylor & Francis.
But in the end it does not matter. It is quite likely that “the unprecedented step of suspending sales and marketing of products and services to research organisations” happened due to sanctions restricting Russia’s and Belarus’s ability to pay for these services. But of course Russian authors are perfectly welcome to submit papers and pay for colour figures and Open Access, by sending roubles in envelopes probably.
These sacred “COPE guidelines” forbid our dear publishers to ban Russian authors, what can they do. But it is the guidelines these same publishers’ own executives who sit on COPE board issued themselves. As a reminder, these same publishers with their COPE declared already in 2015 that the occupied Crimea was indeed Russian and never Ukrainian.
Russians banned from conferences
Oh what cruelty! What an attack on scientific freedom! Russian scientists are banned from visiting scientific conferences! How else will the academic world learn of alternative learned opinions on Ukraine and why everyone there must be killed or enslaved? Oh wait, it was Putin who issued this ban.
The Verge reports:
“Russian scientists will not participate in international conferences this year, the Ministry of Science and Higher Education of the Russian Federation said via its Telegram channel. […]
Minister Valery Falkov also said during a meeting with universities that scientific schools should no longer emphasize when publications are indexed through the two major international scientific databases, according to a recap sent through the Ministry’s Telegram channel.
Scientists aren’t banned from publishing research in international journals indexed in the two databases, Web of Science and Scopus, but will not lean on them as indicators of the quality of the work. The two databases are major sources of scientific information and have metrics that are widely used to evaluate the relative importance of scientific research”
My condolences dear scholarly publishers. You were so eager to keep earning money with great science from Fascist Russia, and now they don’t need your pricey services anymore.
Oh look, turns out some Berlin-based Open Access folks celebrate the mass murderer Putin as their hero. This is sick, but not surprising.
Great science from Russia like the deranged gibberish the president of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the physicist Alexander Sergeev, recently proudly reported to his Führer, in whatever bunker Putin is hiding in.
Kommersant (a dissident-leaning newspaper) reports that Sergeev first announced a massive satellite programme for Arctic surveillance (financially and technically unfeasible while Roscosmos collapses), and then (translated):
““The next result is an unmanned aerial vehicle of a completely new design, it is called the Cyclodron,” continued Alexander Sergeev. “The principle of movement is actually spied from old paddle steamers. Modern means of automation and continuous monitoring of the position of the blades, slopes allows you to control this system in such a way that if there are four such wheels, then you can program, carry out any movement: vertical takeoff, landing on an inclined wall, approaching a building, and so on. And this was the first time! […]
– Although, of course, there is such a famous Russian engineer Sverchkov, who proposed this type of movement more than a century ago (military engineer Evgeny Sverchkov in 1909. – Kommersant), but nothing has been implemented so far! – Alexander Sergeev said disappointedly. – And so far this apparatus, weighing only about 60 kg and with a payload of only 10 kg, in fact, a prototype, was made here in Siberia. This is a development of the Institute of Thermal Physics of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences… A real flight is shown here on the right!
“It says here that the first flight will take place only in 2023,” Vladimir Putin also drew attention to the brochure, which, apparently, has not yet been fully operational at this meeting.
— It’s a six-seater aeromobile!.. — Alexander Sergeev waved off. — And this prototype flew last year! And it flew for quite a long time, ten minutes, when powered only electrically! […]
– It can fly for an hour with hybrid power! – exclaimed Alexander Sergeev. – Now the size of the propellers is one and a half meters in diameter, and now the first manned such device is being made with a take-off weight of 2 thousand kg, and in 2023 it should fly!”
The non-existent flying claptrap can be used for the “special military operation” in Ukraine, Sergeev assured Putin. He then talked about using oil tar residues to produce polypropylene, and carbon capture straight into mussels farmed in the arctic sea. I wouldn’t be surprised if Sergeev believes into all his stupid crap himself. So much on the alleged greatness of Russian science.
Sabatini loses MIT professorship
David Sabatini, former star of US biomedical research, used to be celebrated as a genius. That was despite the fake and irreproducible data in his papers in elite journals, as well as his bullying towards critics, or maybe he was admired exactly for that, who knows. Academia loves alpha males.
But then it turned out that Sabatini, as a true alpha male of science, ran his lab at the Whitehead Institute in Boston as his harem. Or maybe it was always unofficial common knowledge, in any case one victim of his sexual abuse fought back. Sabatini was sacked by the Whitehead Institute, for which he now sues both his former employer and the whistleblower.
And now Sabatini also lost his professorship at MIT. MIT President Rafael Reif issued a letter to the faculty (hattip Boston Globe)
I am writing to inform you that Professor Sabatini has stepped down from his tenured faculty position at MIT. His resignation comes after Biology Department Head Alan Grossman, Dean of Science Nergis Mavalvala, and Provost Marty Schmidt conducted a review and recommended that Professor Sabatini’s tenure be revoked. Professor Sabatini notified me of his decision to step down before and without exercising his policy right to request that a faculty committee be formed to review the recommendation to revoke tenure and report to me on their findings and recommendation.
The reviewers found that Professor Sabatini behaved in ways incompatible with the responsibilities of faculty membership and that Professor Sabatini violated MIT’s Consensual Sexual or Romantic Relationships in the Workplace or Academic Environment policy. Specifically, the reviewers found Professor Sabatini engaged in a sexual relationship with a person over whom he held a career-influencing role, he did not disclose the relationship at any time to his supervisors, and he failed to take any steps to relinquish his mentoring and career-influencing roles, as the policy requires. The Committee also had significant concerns regarding his unprofessional behavior toward some lab members.
I know that this situation has been tremendously unsettling for many at the Institute. I am profoundly appreciative of those who brought these issues to light and hope that finding accountability will bring closure to those impacted by this difficult situation.
L. Rafael Reif”
Sabatini’s lawsuit against his victim continues. He is supported by other academic alpha males, as Science reported:
“Sabatini has defenders at MIT. Molecular biologist Harvey Lodish has been overseeing Sabatini’s research group since he was placed on leave. “They are doing spectacular work,” he says. “His people get excellent positions when they leave the lab. Which are all marks of excellent mentorship.””
Mentorship based on research fraud and sexual feudalism. This is how elite science is done, folks.
Nature Comms helps Birbaumer sue DFG
Maybe you recall the affair of the Germany’s former star neuroscientist, Niels Birbaumer. Deutschlandfunk has the background (translated):
“He had developed a method with which one could communicate with so-called “locked-in” patients, i.e. with people who are completely paralyzed. Martin Spüler discovered serious errors in this publication in 2018 and drew his colleagues’ attention to them.
The computer scientist tells how he was then put under pressure, first by Birbaumer and later also by a superior. “And he then said to me relatively clearly that if I continue to pursue the matter, it will have very negative consequences for my career, and I will no longer gain a foothold in science if I continue to do so.”
[…Spüler] turns on the German Research Foundation (DFG) – and later the media as well. And the suspicion is confirmed: In Birbaumer’s publication, the DFG proves scientific misconduct in several cases and excludes him from research funding and his expert work at the DFG for five years.
A commission from the University of Tübingen also accuses the brain researcher of scientific misconduct. Niels Birbaumer retains his senior professorship until it expired as scheduled. He remains Emeritus Professor at the University of Tübingen. Martin Spüler, on the other hand, has to go. His temporary contract will not be extended.
“With the background, it was clear to me why it wasn’t extended. But an official justification never came. As a small person, you can’t do much, you’re stuck in these dependencies, it kind of starts with the doctoral thesis, that you’re from depends on his supervisor and is part of the system.”
Spüler published his criticism of Birbaumer’s research as a preprint. In 2019, Birbaumer’s much celebrated paper was finally retracted on orders from German academic authorities:
Chaudhary U, Xia B, Silvoni S, Cohen LG, Birbaumer N Brain–Computer Interface–Based Communication in the Completely Locked-In State. PLoS Biol (2017) doi: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1002593
The retraction notice declared
“During their investigation, committees at both institutions concluded that the authors of the study are at fault with regard to data collection, handling, and analysis. However, they did not comment on the methodology underlying the findings.
Adhering to the guidelines provided by the Committee on Publication Ethics, the editors retract this manuscript because the authors were found to have engaged in scientific misconduct by Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen and Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft.
The authors have declined to sign this retraction, as they stand by their data, analyses, and conclusions, and state that they intend to take legal proceedings to challenge the findings in the reports, which they claim contain errors.”
And as as announced, Birbaumer sued the DFG. He probably sued others as well, but only DFG issued a press release now, and only because the court trial ended with a settlement. The TL;DR version is: the misconduct findings remain, but all sanctions will be lifted by by the end of this year.
“The legal dispute between the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) and Tübingen-based brain researcher Professor Dr. Niels Birbaumer has ended. At its meeting on 25 March 2022, the Joint Committee of Germany’s largest research funding organisation and central institution for academic self-governance approved a draft settlement which has now become effective. With this an earlier decision by the DFG’s Joint Committee which involved sanctions being imposed on Birbaumer for scientific misconduct remains largely intact
On 19 September 2019, following an investigation of two DFG-funded publications by Birbaumer and other authors concerning communication with completely locked-in (CLIS) patients in the journal PLOS Biology, the Joint Committee found evidence of scientific misconduct in several cases and decided to impose sanctions on the researcher in accordance with the DFG’s Rules of Procedure for dealing with allegations of scientific misconduct. In doing so, it was following a suggestion by the DFG Committee of Inquiry on Allegations of Scientific Misconduct. This procedure explicitly did not involve an assessment of the validity of the theses regarding communication with CLIS patients: in fact the investigation and findings concerned the methodological handling of data.
As a result, Birbaumer was barred from submitting funding proposals and from being involved in any DFG review activities for a period of five years. In addition, the DFG reserved the right to reclaim part of the funding awarded to Birbaumer for the project in question. Finally, the researcher was asked to withdraw publications relating to the misconduct, which was ultimately taken care of by the publishing company itself. In 2020, Birbaumer took legal action against this decision taken by the Joint Committee. After a hearing before the Regional Court of Bonn, a draft settlement was finally arrived at between the DFG and Birbaumer, which was subsequently the subject of deliberations by the Joint Committee.
These deliberations took place at the same time a new publication by Birbaumer appeared reporting successful treatment in connection with communication by a CLIS patient. The preliminary research work on which this latter publication is based was also funded in part by the DFG, though this was not the same project as the one which gave rise to the publications investigated in 2019 and which caused the sanctions to be imposed.
The study by Birbaumer recently published in nature communications rapidly became the subject of extensive coverage and commentary in both academic circles and public media, with the new project in some cases being linked directly to the sanctions imposed on Birbaumer and characterised as a “rehabilitation”. This was also the view propagated by Birbaumer himself, who was quoted on the biomedical online portal statnews as saying: “We won the case, and that means that the organisation who was responsible for this judgement has to lift the retraction.” In response, the DFG clarified that this statement does not correspond to the facts in several respects: at that time, a settlement was being sought and the legal dispute with Birbaumer was ongoing until the Regional Court of Bonn made a ruling on the conclusion and details of the settlement.
In its deliberations, the Joint Committee also expressed its astonishment at these latter developments. At the same time, it expressed clear criticism of the rumoured statements on the state of the proceedings and any alleged rehabilitation of Birbaumer. Nevertheless, the Joint Committee approved the previously agreed litigation settlement. It includes a public notice, which is worded as follows:
“DFG and Professor Dr. Dr. h.c. mult. Birbaumer settle legal dispute:
At its meeting on 19 September 2019, the DFG Joint Committee decided in connection with two publications to impose sanctions on Professor Dr. Dr. h.c. mult. Birbaumer and another project leader due to scientific misconduct. Professor Dr. Dr. h.c. mult. Birbaumer brought an action against this before the Regional Court of Bonn. A settlement has now been arrived at to end these legal proceedings.
The DFG and Professor Dr. Dr. h.c. mult. Birbaumer have agreed that the DFG’s specific procedure due to scientific misconduct against Professor Dr. Dr. h.c. mult. Birbaumer was conducted properly and in accordance with the DFG’s procedural rules for dealing with scientific misconduct.
In order to avoid a protracted legal dispute, the parties have agreed on an amicable settlement. Under this settlement, the sanctions imposed by the DFG Joint Committee against Professor Dr. Dr. h.c. mult. Birbaumer will end on 1 January 2023.
As a result of the settlement being reached, the court has not conducted a final review of the facts or made a final determination regarding the allegations of scientific misconduct in dispute and the assessment of this matter by the DFG Joint Committee. In this regard, both parties maintain their respective opinions. This concludes the dispute.”
You probably noticed that Birbaumer succeeded with the oldest trick in the academic world: he simply published another paper to prove his retracted one right. Because in academia, someone caught on research misconduct is perfectly trustworthy, as opposed to someone who exposed others for research misconduct. The DFG had to accept that “amicable settlement”, because of the danger of the court accepting Birbaumer’s new paper, with all its new co-authors and in a Nature-themed journal, as “peer reviewed”, independent and unassailable expert evidence to exonerate the plaintiff. The court could have overruled all misconduct findings, and Birbaumer would have sued DFG and his university for many millions in personal damage.
Here is the decisive paper, published on 22 March 2022, congrats to Nature Communications, hope they relish the damage they caused:
Ujwal Chaudhary, Ioannis Vlachos , Jonas B. Zimmermann, Arnau Espinosa , Alessandro Tonin , Andres Jaramillo-Gonzalez , Majid Khalili-Ardali , Helge Topka , Jens Lehmberg , Gerhard M. Friehs , Alain Woodtli , John P. Donoghue , Niels Birbaumer Spelling interface using intracortical signals in a completely locked-in patient enabled via auditory neurofeedback training. Nat Commun (2022). doi: 10.1038/s41467-022-28859-8
I shudder to think what Birbaumer’s lawyers may have done to poor Spüler.
Another Voit retraction
The German chemistry professor and director of Leibniz Institute for Polymer Research in Dresden, Brigitte Voit, has retracted another paper with her former PhD student, Xiaoling Liu, now professor in China. This is ironic, because Voit previously saw no need to investigate Liu’s work, despite one earlier retraction (read here). The Leibniz Association then opened a research misconduct investigation, and since Voit was actually the society’s research integrity ombudsperson, she resigned form that job.
This is the second retracted paper by Liu and Voit:
Xiaoling Liu, Xueyi Wang, Brigitte Voit , Dietmar Appelhans Control of Nanoparticle Release by Membrane Composition for Dual‐Responsive Nanocapsules Chemistry – A European Journal (2019) doi: 10.1002/chem.201903459
The retraction notice, issued on 11 March 2022, declares:
“The above article from Chemistry—A European Journal, published online on 23 August 2019 in Wiley Online Library (wileyonlinelibrary.com), has been retracted by agreement between the authors, the journal Editor in Chief, Haymo Ross, and Wiley-VCH GmbH. The retraction has been agreed upon following the conclusion of an institutional investigation, which demonstrated that the conclusions of the article are not reliable.”
The Leibniz Association informed me that the investigative report is completed and will be presented to the society’s board in June. The final decision will be the communicated to me.
Remember the theory that toxoplasma infection makes mice fearless to make them get eaten by a cat whom the parasite needs as a host? It was established already in 1990ies by the Czech scientist Jaroslav Flegr. His teachings were picked up by others, and extended.
In this regard, a reader informed me of an important peer reviewed study:
Javier I. Borráz-León , Markus J. Rantala , Indrikis A. Krams , Ana Lilia Cerda-Molina , Jorge Contreras-Garduño Are Toxoplasma-infected subjects more attractive, symmetrical, or healthier than non-infected ones? Evidence from subjective and objective measurements PeerJ (2022) doi: 10.7717/peerj.13122
“First, we found that infected men had lower facial fluctuating asymmetry whereas infected women had lower body mass, lower body mass index, a tendency for lower facial fluctuating asymmetry, higher self-perceived attractiveness, and a higher number of sexual partners than non-infected ones. Then, we found that infected men and women were rated as more attractive and healthier than non-infected ones.”
Smut Clyde chimed in:
“And cytomegalovairus infection makes you smarter! No wait, paper retracted.
The initial paper and the retraction were from Flegr’s group, who started the whole “toxoplasmosis-changes-human-behaviour” bandwagon of cherry-picking and p-hacking. They must be bored of toxo and looking for new topics to make stuff up.”
This was the retracted paper:
Chvátalová, V., Šebánková, B., Hrbáčková, H. , Tureček, P., & Flegr, J., Differences in cognitive functions between cytomegalovirus-infected and cytomegalovirus-free university students: a case control study. Sci Rep (2018). doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-23637-3
The retraction note from 29 March 2022 said:
“After the publication of the article, J. Gottfried and H. Cigler brought to our attention that the results of the permutation tests for contaminated data in the explorative part of the study were incorrect. We checked the program used in the present study (and recommended by us to be used in future studies) to find out that it has illogically coded infected (0) and uninfected (1) individuals. Due to this error, our explanation of why the CMV-infected subjects have on average higher intelligence than the CMV-free subjects (due to contamination of the later subset with false-negative individuals with old infections and therefore very low levels of both anti-CMV antibodies and intelligence) was wrong. Therefore, the results of our permutation tests falsify, rather than support, the suggested model.
Based on these facts, we retract the article and suggest that future studies search for another explanation of the observed paradox of higher intelligence of CMV-infected subjects.”
So what our results were fabricated, our conclusions remain unaffected. Toxoplasma infection makes you smarter. And apparently, also sexier.
A press release by a scientific conference:
“A study in postmenopausal people suggests eating nutrient-rich prunes every day may be beneficial to bone health, reducing inflammatory factors that contribute to osteoporosis. The research will be presented this week in Philadelphia at the American Physiological Society’s (APS) annual meeting at Experimental Biology 2022.”
It’s not a peer reviewed paper, not a preprint, it’s just a conference abstract. No data, no nothing. For all we know the authors may be on the payroll of California Plum Company.
“Previous research has shown that polyphenol extracts—plant compounds that act as antioxidants and reduce inflammation—in prunes promote lower levels of oxidative stress and inflammation in a type of bone cell called osteoclasts. In a new study, researchers from the Integrative and Biomedical Physiology Program and the Departments of Nutritional Sciences and Kinesiology at The Pennsylvania State University explored the effects of prunes on bone health after menopause. […]
“Our findings suggest that consumption of six to 12 prunes per day may reduce pro-inflammatory mediators that may contribute to bone loss in postmenopausal women. Thus, prunes might be a promising nutritional intervention to prevent the rise in inflammatory mediators often observed as part of the aging process,” said Janhavi Damani, MS, first author of the study.”
What utter bullshit. Those damn non-peer reviewed preprints everyone curses about, right. The Penn State professor behind it, Connie Rogers, specialises on self-defence
against with fresh fruit. Can prunes prevent cancer, one wonders?
The Andersen Conspiracy
Vanity Fair has a story by journalist Katherine Eban on how the US virologist Kristian Andersen, a merciless warrior against everyone even mentioning the words “lab leak“, controls the academic debate:
“On June 18, 2021, an evolutionary biologist named Jesse D. Bloom sent the draft of an unpublished scientific paper he’d written to Dr. Anthony Fauci, the chief medical adviser to the president of the United States. […]
Bloom’s paper was the product of detective work he’d undertaken after noticing that a number of early SARS-CoV-2 genomic sequences mentioned in a published paper from China had somehow vanished without a trace. The sequences, which map the nucleotides that give a virus its unique genetic identity, are key to tracking when the virus emerged and how it might have evolved. In Bloom’s view, their disappearance raised the possibility that the Chinese government might be trying to hide evidence about the pandemic’s early spread. Piecing together clues, Bloom established that the NIH itself had deleted the sequences from its own archive at the request of researchers in Wuhan. Now, he was hoping Fauci and his boss, NIH director Francis Collins, could help him identify other deleted sequences that might shed light on the mystery.”
This is the Bloom preprint, published on bioRxiv in June 2021.
Vanity Fair story continues:
“Collins immediately organized a Zoom meeting for Sunday, June 20. He invited two outside scientists, evolutionary biologist Kristian Andersen and virologist Robert Garry […]
After Bloom described his research, the Zoom meeting became “extremely contentious,” he wrote. Andersen leapt in, saying he found the preprint “deeply troubling.” If the Chinese scientists wanted to delete their sequences from the database, which NIH policy entitled them to do, it was unethical for Bloom to analyze them further, he claimed. And there was nothing unusual about the early genomic sequences in Wuhan.”
Tell me again that science is not political. Here you have a US virologist yelling at his peer not to question the authority of Chinese regime to suppress scientific data. Andersen then offered to use his access as bioRxiv preprint screener to delete Bloom’s preprint or at least to censor it without a trace:
“At that point, both Fauci and Collins distanced themselves from Andersen’s offer, with Fauci saying, as Bloom recalled it, “Just for the record, I want to be clear that I never suggested you delete or revise the pre-print.” They seemed to know that Andersen had gone too far.”
And then Andersen accused Bloom of setting conspiracy theory killers upon him:
“Andersen—who’d had some of his emails with Fauci from early in the pandemic publicly released through FOIA requests—leveled a third objection. Andersen, Bloom wrote, “needed security outside his house, and my pre-print would fuel conspiratorial notions that China was hiding data and thereby lead to more criticism of scientists such as himself.””
Nice guy, this Andersen. The Vanity Fair articles continues with more insights into the lab leak debate and how the US science elites sought to steer it.
But here is Andersen overdoing himself. He tweeted:
Basically, the US professor who keeps screaming “conspiracy theory” at everyone daring to discuss lab leak origins of COVID-19, who silences his peers on every occasion, who tries to erase others’ research, this US professor says that the Communist Party of China conspired against itself to cover up the evidence of its own theory of natural origin of COVID-19, a theory China has been actively aggressively pushing since the first case of COVID-19 emerged. All because Andersen can’t show any evidence for zoonotic transmission, while the indirect evidence for a lab leak keeps mounting up.
As reminder, Andersen previously bullied the postdoc Alina Chan, author of the book “Viral“, by falsely accusing her of research misconduct, on Twitter. Chan’s crime was to find grave scientific errors in the preprint by Andersen and his mates, rendering their triumphant claim of proving the zoonotic origin of COVID-19 as untenable (read here).
Andersen, always keen to silence and erase anything he doesn’t like, soon deleted his “conspiracy” tweet as everyone started to laugh at him. But his tweet with misconduct accusation against Chan is still standing.
To sum up: Andersen conspired to destroy other’s research, publicly slandered a junior scientist with false research misconduct allegations, and himself knowingly published data which can at best be described as cherry-picked. What is this kind of behaviour called in academia?
If this is the level of scientific integrity and intellectual performance of our highest science elites advising the governments, maybe we should have another look inside the academic ranks if we find someone less toxic, less dishonest, and more competent than the failed scientists like Andersen and his mates.
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Lots of details about lots of hidden sidejobs of high profile professors at Dutch universities is listed at https://nos.nl/nieuwsuur/collectie/13896/artikel/2424108-verantwoording-onderzoek-bijbanen-hoogleraren
The journalists needed to go to court to force the University of Groningen to provide them an overview of all sidejobs of all professors at RUG, see https://uitspraken.rechtspraak.nl/inziendocument?id=ECLI:NL:RBMNE:2021:2386
This background article at NOS / Nieuwsuur contains lots of correspondence between the journalists of Nieuwsuur and the professors / their universities.The correspondence revealed that Erasmus University Rotterdam gave money to Ernst & Young, a private company, as some sort of compensation that Jan Peter Balkenende, a former Prime Minister of The Netherlands, was able to work for one day a week as a professor at Erasmus University Rotterdam.
“The initial paper and the retraction were from Flegr’s group, who started the whole “toxoplasmosis-changes-human-behaviour” bandwagon of cherry-picking and p-hacking.”
Flegr showed that you can always find an effect of T. gondii infection on human behaviour if you split your subjects into small enough subgroups, and bring in enough variables and epicycles.
This is how you transform a negative finding into a more elaborate theory, beautiful in its complexity.