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5 December 2013 11:26 am ,
Vol. 342 ,
Dyslexia, a learning disability that hinders reading, hasn't been associated with deficits in vision, hearing, or...
Exotic, elusive, and dangerous, snakes have fascinated humankind for millennia. They can be hard to find, yet their...
Researchers have sequenced and analyzed the first two snake genomes, which represent two evolutionary extremes. The...
Snake venoms are remarkably complex mixtures that can stun or kill prey within minutes. But more and more researchers...
At age 30, Dutch biologist Freek Vonk has built up a respectable career as a snake scientist. But in his home country,...
Since arriving on the island of Guam in the 1940s, the brown tree snake ( Boiga irregularis ) has extirpated native...
An animal rights group known as the Nonhuman Rights Project filed lawsuits in three New York courts this week in an...
Researchers have been hot on the trail of the elusive Denisovans, a type of ancient human known only by their DNA and...
- 5 December 2013 11:26 am , Vol. 342 , #6163
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Fraudster Blog Author Outed and Comes Clean
3 January 2013 4:20 pm
The anonymous author of a popular Web site that claimed to identify manipulated images—and the scientists behind them—confirmed his identify this afternoon, a day after he removed previous posts and announced that he would suspend posting on the site following threats of legal action. The man behind www.science-fraud.org is Paul Brookes, a 40-year-old associate professor who studies cardiac mitochondrial function at the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York. In a statement posted on his blog that was subsequently taken down, Brookes said he was "aided by dozens of helpers, who both submitted material to the site and helped in analyzing suspected data, a triage system of sorts was developed, such that only the most egregious examples were posted." Since it went live 6 months ago, the site "documented over 500 problematic images in over 300 publications."
Brookes had considered some of the possible legal ramifications of accusing prominent scientists of fraud. The site pointed out that "cease-and-desist letters from individuals whose work I report on will be ignored, because I'm only highlighting what's already out there and allowing readers to draw their own conclusions." Genuine legal concerns, however, would be taken seriously, and "I will be happy to discuss editing or removal."
But over the past week or so, Brookes says that he received threats from lawyers "acting on behalf of individuals whose science was openly discussed on the site." One lawyer, Brookes wrote on his blog, managed to subpoena his personal contact information from the Web hosting company and sent an e-mail to dozens of scientists whose findings had been questioned on http://www.science-fraud.org, along with deans and journal editors. The e-mail (whose author did not respond to an e-mail from ScienceInsider for comment, and which was also posted on Brookes's blog and then removed) listed Brookes' work address and said, "his hate website is a menace to scientific society." The author continued, "Please forward this email to your institutions and ask for legal representation."
In his statement, Brookes said the e-mail correctly identified him but added that he wanted to "set the record straight" about his Web site. He did admit that his strident language and accusations of fraud may have been a mistake. Nonetheless, he has plenty of fans. "Keep up the good fight!" wrote one commenter on www.science-fraud.org. Brookes says he hopes to do just that on a new Web site, now with his real name behind it.