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Nature’s Special Report Contains Numerous Factual Errors (1647 查看)

February 04, 2013 11:23AM
Nature’s Special Report Contains Numerous Factual Errors


On May 24, 2006, Nature published a Special Report by Mr. David Cyranoski, Named and shamed. The report is two-pages long, contains 1,523 words. I have found 17 factual errors in the article, and listed them below.


An erroneous special report by Nature
The red boxes designate the sentences containing factual mistakes.


Nature 1: In March, Hui Liu, the vice-dean of Tsinghua University medical school in Beijing, was fired, following claims that he had boosted his publication list with papers by another H. Liu (see Nature 440, 728; 2006).

Fact 1: Liu Hui was an assistant dean (助理院长), not “the vice-dean” (副院长).

Nature 2: In April, Sichuan University in Chengdu was criticized by the Chinese media for finding one of its professors innocent of fabricating a paper; the paper has been under attack since its publication in 2000.

Fact 2: The paper was criticized by Si Lusheng in 2003; Si’s public “attack” on the paper started in March, 2006. As far as I know, besides Si, no one else had attacked that paper before Si’s open attack in 2006.

Nature 3: And two weeks ago, Jin Chen of Shanghai's Xi'an Jiaotong University, whose announcements of one of China's first digital signal-processing chips in 2003 stoked patriotic fervour, was condemned by his university for faking research and stealing designs from a foreign company.

Fact 3: There is no such a university in China. (Note: Nature corrected this error one week later.)



Nature 4: In all three cases, a popular Chinese-language website known as New Threads (http://www.xys.org), which has a reputation for disclosing scientific fraud in China, played a key role in fuelling public outcry.

Fact 4: The New Threads played no positive role in Chen Jin case. (See my letter to Nature, Part X.)

Nature 5: And the website's owner, Shi-min Fang, a biochemist based in San Diego, California,

Fact 5: Since he got married in 2002, Fang has been living in the dormitory of Xinhua News Agency in Beijing. He has no legal residence in the United States. Also, Fang is not the owner of New Threads.

Nature 6: Fang…claims he was the first to post the name of Chen's company which supposedly re-labelled foreign chips.

Fact 6: Fang denied that he had so claimed. He said what he told Nature was “We were the first one to identify the architecture company which polished and re-labeled Chen's chip.” Of course this was a lie also. (See my letter to Nature, Part X.)

Nature 7: within five days of circulating it to other Chinese biologists based in the United States, Fu's letter had collected 120 signatures, including those of two researchers in China.

Fact 7: Among the 120 signees, 2 people (John Liu and Yu Tian Wang) were based in Canada. Also, the open letter started as “An open statement on Wei Yu-Quan's case” on April 24 or 25, 2006 (see: [www.xys.org]), which was revised at least 7 times (See: Fu Xinyuan’s letter to New Threads on May 16, 2006) before being finalized on May 7, 2006. Therefore, it is highly doubtful the statement that Fu “collected 120 signatures” “within five days of circulating” is accurate.

Nature 8: It ends by condemning the tendency to make "personal attacks anonymously in public…in the absence of proper investigation".

Fact 8: The quotation was misquoted. The complete original sentence is: “Attempts to influence public opinion, in the absence of proper investigation, by making personal attacks anonymously in public, or to spread rumors are not acceptable and should be discouraged.” (See: [club.chaoxing.com]).

Nature 9: On 26 March this year, after hearing that Wei was using the paper to request a further large grant, Si attacked the paper on New Threads.

Fact 9: First, Si’s open letter to CAS was clearly dated August 18, 2005, and probably sent to Fang at the same time. Second, besides Fang, no one else has the power to attack anybody or anything on the New Threads. Third, there is no information or indication whatsoever showing that Si's open attack on Wei on March 26, 2006, was motivated by his “hearing that Wei was using the paper to request a further large grant.” (Si noticed Wei's Nature Medicine paper in 2001 when he was reviewing Wei’s grant proposal.) Fourth, Si's open letter “attacked” two papers by Wei’s group, the Nature Medicine paper was only one, and the second one, of them.

Nature 10: The letter led to a media fury in China and an investigation by Wei's university.

Fact 10: The “media fury” didn’t happen until April 12, 2006, 17 days after Si’s open letter appeared on New Threads. By that time, Fang had already published more than 100 articles attacking Wei on the New Threads, seven of them were written by himself. So, the thing “led to a media fury in China” was not Si’s letter, but Fang’s hype and manipulation.

Nature 11: Sichuan concluded that Wei had committed no offence, and that the dispute over Wei's research was simply a run-of-the-mill academic disagreement.

Fact 11: Sichuan is the name of a Chinese province, not the name of the university.

Nature 12: Si also questions the number of mice Wei used, estimating this to be around 40,000.

Fact 12: Si’s estimate was “a few dozens of thousand” (几万只动物), it was Wei who said they had the capacity of raising 40,000 mice simultaneously (我们实验室可以同时养4万只老鼠).

Nature 13: Fu's letter, sent on 8 May, calls for greater involvement of higher-level funding bodies such as the science ministry, the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) and the Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC).

Fact 13: The official name of the ministry is “Ministry of Science and Technology.”

Nature 14: For example, Si says he considered sending his complaint to the CAS or to the science ministry, but he was unable to find contact details for either.

Fact 14: The official name of the ministry is “Ministry of Science and Technology.”

Nature 15: So he posted his accusation on New Threads instead.

Fact 15: It was Fang who posted Si’s letter on New Threads. Besides Fang, no one else has the power to do so.

Nature 16: These wall-mounted handwritten posters were used to persecute those considered enemies of the government during the Cultural Revolution in the 1970s.

Fact 16: The Cultural Revolution lasted from 1966-1976, and Dazibao was most popular in the early part of the period.

Nature 17: Fang, who has been widely praised since setting up his website in 2001 for exposing bad science and trying to raise the profile of research ethics in China, defends his postings.

Fact 17: The New Threads was set up in 1998, Fang sets year 2000 as the starting point of his “exposing bad science and trying to raise the profile of research ethics in China.” (See: [www.xys.org]).



被编辑1次。最后被亦明编辑于02/17/2013 03:41AM。
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Nature’s Special Report Contains Numerous Factual Errors (1647 查看)

亦明 February 04, 2013 11:23AM



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