Much of French media and academia, and certainly also the international plant science community now debates a hot conspiracy theory: what if Olivier Voinnet is actually innocent, a visionary genius who fell prey to a conspiracy of fraudulent colleagues and scheming bureaucrats? I discuss here the widespread dishonesty and data manipulation among Voinnet’s co-authors and peers. Is French research culture to blame?
The newspaper l’Express reported that Academie de Sciences commissioned an investigative report about the papers of former CNRS interim president Anne Peyroche, and that CNRS and the French Ministry of Research tried to suppress it. Peyroche herself could not be heard, because she is hospitalised since the affair started. So her co-authors took that as opportunity to blame Peyroche for every fake figure. Meanwhile, duplicated data was found even in Research Minister’s Frederique Vidal’s paper.
Jaw-dropping corrections issued for the French martyr saint of research integrity, Catherine Jessus, head of biology branch at the French CNRS. All these works of science contained such appalling Photoshop manipulations that the academic publisher had to bend over backwards and hide behind COPE guidelines to invent a reason against retractions.
As Le Monde brought into public light the Catherine Jessus affair with its whitewashed data manipulation and the growing academic protest, a counter-revolution put its foot in. A signature list in the worst Stalinist tradition was published, organised by the very elite of French academia (mostly members of Academie de Sciences), and signed by hundreds, mostly professors and CNRS group leaders, including a former CNRS president. Their demands, endorsed in a secret press release by current CNRS president and Sorbonne University president: punishment for 10 anonymous authors of the Jessus counter-report and for a Le Monde journalist.
Sorbonne University in Paris, where the CNRS chief biologist Catherine Jessus, holds a professorship, delivered an outrageous whitewashing report about her manipulations. Now, an Open Letter has been published by around 10 unnamed French biologists. It plucks apart the Sorbonne report of Jessus papers.