Tarantino & Finelli: i plagiatori di Napoli

Tarantino & Finelli: i plagiatori di Napoli

Plagiarism and self-plagiarism used to be an easy way for career advancement for many ruthless and entitled academics. It became a bit more difficult now, in the times of internet where automatic software can flush out a cheater in a matter of minutes. Provided of course, the scholarly publishers care about such things. And in fact, many don’t. My regular contributor Smut Clyde now presents you the case of two medical plagiarists from Naples in Italy, who became infamous after one of them was caught having stolen the work of a US colleague he was peer reviewing. In other cases, the two Napolitans were even too lazy to plagiarise. They simply republished their already plagiarised “works” several times, and not just as some pedestrian papers, but as book chapters, all in order to boost their publishing record even further. Smut Clyde alerted the journals, but most of them couldn’t care less. To their defence: some are known predatory publishers.

And these are the two Plagiatori di Napoli: Giovanni Tarantino , born 1946, likes to present himself as “Professor of Internal Medicine” at the Università degli Studi di Napoli Federico II, thought the university website has no records of his faculty membership. He was apparently a subordinate group leader there for 20 years till 2005 and might have had afterwards an adjunct professorship under a Napoli faculty member Giovanni Di Minno, whom Tarantino invited to join the plagiarism game. Their common paper in Oncotarget disappeared from the internet without a trace when the misconduct became known. Tarantino’s junior partner in the plagiarism scam is Carmine Finelli, educated at the same university, last (allegedly) affiliated with the hospital Stella Maris Mediterraneo in Puglia and now a “free medical professional”, whatever that might be. Continue reading “Tarantino & Finelli: i plagiatori di Napoli”

Cancerous Statistics, by Alla Astakhova

Cancerous Statistics, by Alla Astakhova

Russian officials found an ingenious way to cure cancer and to impress their autocratic president Putin: they simply rig statistics. More people die of cancer than actually officially suffer from it. Elsewhere, dead patients disappear or, according to statistics, live forever. This was reported by the Russian independent health journalist Alla Astakhova on her site, Status Praesens, based on an open letter by the oncologist Vakhtang Merabishvili she published. My site now brings you a translation of a related Astakhova article, which covered last year’s lecture by Merabishvili about the rigged Russian cancer statistics.

And these are truly impressively false. While Europe shows for stage IV cancer sufferers a one-year mortality rate of between 30 and 40 percent (in some countries over 50%), Russia achieved a medical sensation: less than 20% die! Also for stages I and II cancer patients, Russian bureaucrats were able to show excellent health improvements. The current Minister of Health Veronika Skvortsova proudly announced to Putin that the early cancer detection rate in Russia is amazing 70%. Yet even the rigged official data shows actually 55% on average (and is higher in more corrupt regions of Russia). In reality, once one does the counting properly, according to international standards, the early cancer detection rate lies between 30 and 35 percent. Same minister Skvortsova recently promised  to raise the life expectancy of Russians to 120, which is impressive given that the current one is around 70. Maybe just for Putin (65), to make sure someone watches over Russia for the next 50 years. It is also a quite convenient excuse for the Russian government to raise the entry into pension age. If you are promised to live till 120, don’t complain if you are told to work till 70 or longer (Russian life expectancy with men is 67).

Russian officials, while promoting their so-called “family values” in a desperate attempt to raise the rapidly declining child births, pretend in their cancer statistics that the population is not ageing at all. Which is convenient, because if you don’t expect an increase of age-related cancers, you do not have to invest in oncology care.

Continue reading “Cancerous Statistics, by Alla Astakhova”

Latchman and Wohl Foundation: gifts that keep on giving

Latchman and Wohl Foundation: gifts that keep on giving

Imagine being so rich that not you are employed as rector by the university, it is your university whom you give money to, from the inherited charity trust you preside over. If such a precious rector had over 40 of his publications flagged for what definitely looks like grossly manipulated data, it would be simply stupidly irresponsible for the university to actually investigate that. And if they really had to investigate, the only sensible solution is to find the entire blame with someone else.

This is basically the situation of David Latchman, Master of Birkbeck, professor of genetics at UCL and Commander of the Order of the British Empire. The scientist who was once again cleared of all suspicions of research misconduct, while his two subordinates took all the blame, for just 7 papers. Past and apparently even future evidence for all other dozens of papers Latchman co-authored was dismissed, which let my regular contributor Smut Clyde present some of it last month. Now Smut offers an extra serving of duplicated graphs of experimental kinetics, in a Latchman coda below.

Latchman is not your pedestrian scientist who does science as a job to earn a living. For the Master of Birkbeck is nephew of the late London property developer and philanthropist Maurice Wohl, who died childless. One can guess who is the likely heir to the immense wealth Maurice Wohl left, and indeed, Latchman is Chair of the over £100 Million-heavy Maurice Wohl Charitable Foundation, a charity which donates in no small part to healthcare and medical research in UK. Latchman’s own Birkbeck pays him a yearly salary of GBP 400k, one of the highest rector’s salaries in UK, yet the university received from Lathcman’s Wohl Foundation, according to these records between 2013 and 2016, over 5 Million British Pounds: Continue reading “Latchman and Wohl Foundation: gifts that keep on giving”

The anti-social mini-brains of Neanderthals

The anti-social mini-brains of Neanderthals

Neanderthals colonised Europe and Middle East long before modern humans and went extinct less than 30,000 years ago, when our species has spread there. Their story inspired the fantasies of generation of scientists, some of whom still cannot accept the idea that Neanderthals were just another kind of humans very similar or maybe simply just like us. Again and again the Neanderthals are portrayed as grunting hairy cave beasts utterly incapable of anything which makes us human: speech, art, tool-making and any meaningful social interaction except of copulation and mutual delousing. Gracelessly lumbering about, too slow to even hunt some food, not even grunting, but squeaking. The recent knowledge that modern humans and Neanderthal had actual children with each other, evidenced by genetic traces all modern humans of non-African origin carry, has for those academics a whiff of a bestiality fantasy. 

The following post by my regular contributor Smut Clyde presents you some fresh new age phrenology papers which try to explain why Neanderthal died out. Their brains were inferior, you see. Defective. This is why they are no longer amongst us: too stupid and anti-social. The history of Homo sapiens however suggests that we tend to see any out-group humans this way and then try our best in exterminating them and take their resources. Had certain more recent human endeavours succeeded, there would probably be peer -reviewed academic studies on why Australian and American first people, or Tutsi, or Armenians, or Jews were biologically bound to become extinct. Was it their poorly developed brains which made them sub-competitive against Europeans and other evolutionary more advanced races? Continue reading “The anti-social mini-brains of Neanderthals”

“Me llamo Paloma Cabeza Jiménez”: Macchiarini victim speaks out

“Me llamo Paloma Cabeza Jiménez”: Macchiarini victim speaks out

English version, and a secret of yet another dead trachea transplant patient below.

Me llamo Paloma Cabeza Jiménez,

tengo 43 años y vivo en Alicante aunque nací en Madrid (España)

Con tan solo 10 años, tuve un accidente doméstico con un caustico.

En aquella época (1986) no se manejaban con buen acierto ni criterio las lesiones traqueales.

Mi lesión primaria era de tan solo dos centímetros de longitud y a causa de malas decisiones médicas y pocos recursos… aquellos dos centímetros degeneraron en una lesión que abarcaba la longitud total de la tráquea, lo cual me obligó a la colocación de una prótesis de silicona tipo “T” llamada Montgomery en 1992 (el verano que cumplía 18 años)

Tras años de múltiples recambios de Mongomerys para evitar la colonización por bacterias, se dieron cuenta que esas mismas manipulaciones (cada 3-6 meses) en quirófano estaban favoreciendo y provocando la aparición de nuevas bacterias por contaminación y sumada a esta realidad la propia manipulación destrozaba la regeneración natural de la mucosa traqueal.

Asi mismo, las reiteradas manipulaciones con fibrobroncoscopio rigido y aspiraciones…dañaron parcialmente mi bronquio principal izquierdo, quedándose con una estenosis estable de diámetro entre 6-7mm. Calibre compatible con una calidad de vida normal si no pretendes ser deportista profesional. Continue reading ““Me llamo Paloma Cabeza Jiménez”: Macchiarini victim speaks out”

Attack of the Photoclones: Sharma-Madhuri Prequel

Attack of the Photoclones: Sharma-Madhuri Prequel

Smut Clyde is a natural force I insidiously chose to harvest and unleash upon the worst cheaters of the research community. His previous contribution to my site, about the nanotechnology Photoshoppers Prashant Sharma and Rashmi Madhuri, flushed several promising  academic careers down the toilet, quite deservingly so. Both are under institutional investigation and public ridicule, the list of their retractions grows steadily (presently at 15 retracted papers), with no end in sight (Sharma and Madhuri however try to compensate their losses by publishing new papers in Elsevier, e.g. here & here). Indian scientists even set up a Change petition, asking the Indian Government to deal with the research fraud at the Indian School of Mines (ISM) in Dhanbad.

A former partner of Sharma from Allahabad, Ashutosh Tiwari was exposed by readers of that Smut Clyde article, which awarded that fake professor from Sweden with his own string of my reporting. Tiwari saw his predatory conference and publishing business going down the drain, while the Sharma and Madhuri papers he edited and co-authored for a special Elsevier series were retracted.

Towards Chemistry World Sharma declined to comment beyond observing that he’s ‘just a co-author on some of those papers’“.

Madhuri, before she went silent, declared to an Indian journalist:

“We would like to mention that all our articles are published in very reputed journals, after a very rigorous and transparent review process, adopted by the concerned journals. The referees and editorial board have approved our work and published them.

“Merely by inspecting the images one cannot draw inferences that are outcome of very carefully designed and performed experiments. Therefore, it is very unscientific to comment that the images are morphed or photo-shopped, whereas all the related data and supporting files are still in possession of authors, which can be crosschecked by competent authorities, if required.”

Now, Smut Clyde presents the Prequel to that story, namely the tale of Madhuri’s PhD advisor, Bhim Bali Prasad, professor in the department of chemistry in Banaras Hindu University in India. He is the senior who apparently still make up his data in the traditional artisan way: by pencil. We shall now learn where Madhuri learned her skills. Grab popcorn, and enjoy the show!

Continue reading “Attack of the Photoclones: Sharma-Madhuri Prequel”

David Latchman, the reckless Master of Birkbeck

David Latchman, the reckless Master of Birkbeck

This is a story of David Latchman, Master of Birkbeck at University of London, professor of genetics at UCL and Commander of the Order of the British Empire. All this he achieved also by his impressive publishing record, part of which will be discussed below by my regular contributor Smut Clyde. Just part of it, because there are in fact oodles of Latchman co-authored papers discussed on PubPeer for evidence of data manipulation. As Birkbeck and UCL were repeatedly bombarded by whistleblowers, Latchman was (pretend)-investigated on misconduct charges twice. Naturally, neither whitewashing report was released to public. After the first investigation of 2015, we only learned:

“UCL confirms that the conclusion of its investigation is that Professor Latchman has no case to answer in relation to research misconduct”.

Last month, UCL declared that Latchman committed “recklessness” and was “insufficiently attentive” to what his junior researchers used to do in his lab and in his papers, namely the cardiologist Tiziano Scarabelli and the cancer researcher Anastasis Stephanou. The former is presently professor of medicine at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) Medical Center in USA, while the latter is professor at European University Cyprus. These two were found guilty of having manipulated images in 7 papers. All other Latchman co-authored papers (of the 32 investigated) are perfectly fine, and anyway, as Birkbeck explained:

“The matter does not relate to Professor David Latchman’s leadership of Birkbeck, which has been excellent for the past 15 years.  Furthermore, there is no suggestion by UCL that Professor Latchman had any knowledge of, or involvement in, the image manipulation identified”

This is a typical academic attitude. When a paper is needed to get promotion and funding money, boss claims the main credit. When a paper is exposed as fraudulent, boss never had anything to do with it (see for example this Spanish case).

Retrospectively, both UCL investigation look even more of a farce, as Latchman himself seems to have been instructing the university how to properly investigate others and not him:

“In my view, the investigation should focus on those actually involved in preparing the questionable figures and those directly involved in supervising their production”

Despite at least 5 retractions, Latchman remains in his position as Master of Birkbeck, where he is paid GBP 400k a year, one of the highest rector salaries in UK. Without diminishing the responsibilities of Scarabelli and Stephanou (in fact, Smut Clyde presents much more below), there seems to be a pattern at UCL of finding the exclusive blame with those no longer employed, while their English-bred senior professors turn out utterly blameless. Recent revelations in the Macchiarini trachea transplant affair also suggest that. However, some of problematic Latchman papers have neither Scarabelli nor Stephanou as co-author. Very reckless of UCL not to have investigated those.

Continue reading “David Latchman, the reckless Master of Birkbeck”