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The Hanly War (VIII): The Genuine Quack_2 (983 查看)

February 25, 2015 02:25PM
The Transcontinental Thievery

In March 1997, Dr. Marcia Ramos-e-Silva, then an associate professor of dermatology at Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, presented a paper at a conference entitled GIOVAN COSIMO BONOMO (1663-1696): Discoverer of the etiology of scabies. The presentation was published in the International Journal of Dermatology in the next year[74]. Just by looking at the title, it is obvious where Fang’s sole attribution to Bonomo came from. And indeed, Fang’s entire historical narrative about the scabies etiology discovery was based on Dr. Ramos-e-Silva’s paper. The complete comparison is listed in the appended table at the end of this article; however, there are many more interesting stories in the theft.

Systematic and historic stealing
The above images are Dr. Ramos-e-Silva’s paper published in the International Journal of Dermatology in 1998 (upper), and Fang’s article published in the Xinhua Daily Telegraph on Feb. 10, 2012 (lower). The portions highlighted in yellow indicate the similarity in contents between the two articles; the red box in the lower image indicates the paragraph which was stolen by Fang from another already identified source. The person in the upper left corner in the lower image is Mr. Xie Guoji, the editor-in-chief of the Xinhua Daily Telegraph, to whom I have informed Fang’s plagiarism at least 7 times; the big characters in the brown seal image賊贜 (zéi zāng), which mean “stolen goods,” are added by me.

1. The Italian Connection

It appears that Dr. Ramos-e-Silva’s paper was mainly based on two literatures: a paper published in 1991 by Italian scholars Drs. Maria Antonia Montesu and Francesca Cottoni of the Università di Sassari in Italy, G.C. Bonomo and D. Cestoni. Discoverers of the parasitic origin of scabies[36], and Dr. Richard Mead’s English translation of the original letter from Bonomo to Redi[45]. More specifically, Dr. Ramos-e-Silva incorporated almost the entire content of the both articles into her own paper, with her own annotations. For example, the first paragraph of the Italian paper is:

“The 17th century was characterized by two opposing cultural trends. One culture, which revolved around the Church, assumed a severely intransigent position vis à vis the second, which was inspired by a series of bold innovators in the fields of science, literature, and art. These cultural explorers gave us nothing less than a new vision of the world. This was the century of Galileo Galilei (1564-1642), Tommaso Campanella (1568-1639), Giordano Bruno (1548-1600), Michelangiolo Merisi detto il Caravaggio (1573-1610), and Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1598-1680) (I).”[36]

And the 7th paragraph of the Brazilian paper is:

“The seventeenth century was characterized by two opposing intellectual forces. On one side was a culture that was the inspiration for a series of bold innovators in the fields of science, literature, and art, and which gave us a totally new vision of the world. It was the time of Galileo, Campanella, Bruno, Caravaggio, Bernini, and many others. On the other side was a culture which revolved around the Church and assumed a severely intransigent and antagonistic position with the first.6”[74]

Here is the last paragraph of the Italian paper:

“The discovery by Bonomo and Cestoni, even though not immediately recognized, marked the first mention of the parasitic theory of infectious diseases. They were the first to demonstrate that a disease could be caused by a microscopic organism. Their discovery may fairly be said to have initiated a new era in medicine.”[36]

And here is the last paragraph by Dr. Ramos-e-Silva:

“Giovan Cosimo Bonomo, in collaboration with Diacinto Cestoni, discovered the etiologic agent, stated that it reproduced through the union of a male and a female, affirmed it laid eggs (Bonomo actually saw the mite laying an egg), suggested its transmission by clothes and fomites, and speculated about the reasons some local treatments were effective and some systemic were not. That was in 1687,2 three hundred and 10 years ago; and their study, even though not immediately recognized, marked the first notice of the parasitic theory of infectious diseases; demonstrating for the first time that a microscopic organism could be the cause of a disease. It may even be said without doubt that Bonomo's and Cestoni's discovery initiated a new era in Medicine.6”[74]

Admittedly, the end note mark “6” refers the paper by Montesu & Cottoni.

In May 2014, when I found the similarity between the Italian and Brazilian papers, I sent a letter to Dr. Rokea A. el-Azhary, the Editor-in-Chief of the International Journal of Dermatology, to alert her with my finding:

“Although Dr. Marcia Ramos-e-Silva did mention Montesu and Cottoni’s paper many times, she didn’t acknowledge the fact that she incorporated almost the entire content of the latter’s paper into her own, and the fact that she duplicated, frequently, the wordings of the latter’s.”

“Whether the action by Dr. Marcia Ramos-e-Silva constituted plagiarism is not for me to say, however, I do believe it did. That’s why I am bringing the matter to your attention.”

Till this day, I have not yet heard a word from the Editor-in-Chief or the journal. Obviously, they believe the writing style is acceptable.

My email to the editor-in-chief of the International Journal of Dermatology has generated no response at all.

2. Lost in Translation

One cannot help but wonder why did Dr. Ramos-e-Silva change Montesu & Cottoni’s plural title word “discoverers” into her own singular “discoverer,” and why would she attributed the discovery solely to Giovan Cosimo Bonomo in the title, but to both Giovan Cosimo Bonomo and Diacinto Cestoni in her conclusion. In other words, why did Dr. Marcia Ramos-e-Silva attempt, though failed, to deprive Cestoni of his right to the discovery? The only plausible answer to the question, besides intentionally distinguishing herself from the other medical historians, seems to be the fact that she was misled by the second source of her paper, Dr. Mead’s translation of Bonomo’s letter to Redi.

According to Mead’s translation, Bonomo used the first-person singular pronoun “I” to tell Redi the discovery. For example, the first two paragraphs read:

“Having frequently observed that the Poor Women when their Children are troubled with the Itch, do with the point of a Pin pull out of the Scabby Skin little Bladders of Water, and crack them like Fleas upon their Nails; and that the Scabby Slaves in the Bagno at Leghorne do often practice this Mutual Kindness upon one another; it came into my Mind to examine what these Bladders might really be.

I quickly found an Itchy person, and asking him where he felt the greatest and most acute Itching, he pointed to a great many little Pustules not yet Scabb’d over, of which picking out one with a very fine Needle, and squeezing from it a thin Water, I took out a very small white Globule, scarcely discernible: Observing this with a Microscope, I found it to be a very minute Living Creature, in shape resembling a Tortoise, of whitish colour, a little dark upon the Back, with some thin and long Hairs, of nimble motion, with six Feet, a sharp Head, with two little Horns at the end of the Snout ; as is represented in Fig, 1 and 3.”[45]

Sounds like indeed that Bonomo was the only person who initiated the inquiry and conducted the investigation, right? However, the inaccuracies of the English translation had been pointed out a long time ago. In 1788, an article published in The London Medical Journal said:

“Dr. Mead, by omitting the beginning of Bonomo's letter to Redi, has not fully stated the circumstances that led to the discovery of the insect in question, and has given to Bonomo the credit of observations for which we find Bonomo acknowledging himself indebted to one of his friends, whom he names.”[51]

21 years later, Mead’s translation was again criticized, by Dr. Joseph Adams:

“Part of Bonomo's letter is next inserted, by which it appears that Mead has omitted the introductory and by far most important part. For in this Bonomo tells us, that he was first indebted to his dictionary for his knowledge that such an insect existed, and afterwards to his friend, Hyacyntho Cestonio, who assured him that the nurses and galley slaves extracted the insect from their children and each other (a minutioribms tuberculis, vel, ut vocitant, immaturis.)”[75]

The mistakes in Mead’s English translation were pointed out again in 1976, by Professor J. R. Busvine:

(Mead) “changes from the plural to the first person singular; and he omits to say that the person who actually saw the mite was 'Sig. Isaac Colonello (whom we had engaged to draw the figure)'.”[76]

The fact is, in the 1800s, when Bonomo’s letter to Redi was translated into French and German, it is very clear that Cestoni’s contribution to the discovery was explicitly acknowledged by Bonomo in the letter (see the table and figure below).

A quadruple comparison
From left: The original Italian letter from Bonomo to Redi is compared with its 1703 English translation by Richard Mead; the 1833 English translation of its French translation by Rayer; and the 1868 English translation of its German translation by Hebra. The portions highlighted in yellow show the key differences in the first-person singular and plural pronouns.

Apparently, Fang’s statement that “Bonomo has been considered in the medical history the first person who ever identified the pathogen of a disease,” was based on the misled Brazilian dermatologist.

3. The Believers of Conflict Thesis

According to a century-old theory, science and religion are fundamentally incompatible, and the relationship between the two forces has been hostile and conflicting, hence the name “conflict thesis”[79]. Although the theory has been refuted and falsified extensively and exhaustively with historical facts in the circles of philosophy and history of science, there are still some people who, for some reason, want to believe in it.

According to Dr. Marcia Ramos-e-Silva, the reason for Bonomo’s discovery being forgotten was the suppression by the religious force which believed in the theory of spontaneous generation:

“Immediately after the letter of Bonomo and publication of Redi's book,2 the Pope's chief physician, Giovanni Maria Lancisi (1654-1720) began a dispute with Bonomo. Lancisi thought scabies had a humoral origin that preceded the proliferation of the acarus, and, although he recognized the presence of the parasite, he discarded it as the single cause of the disease. In the course of this dispute, because of Lancisi's position as the Pope's chief physician, the fact that he invoked the Scriptures, and the fate of previous scientists as Galileo; Bonomo was persuaded not to continue the debate. His discovery was then completely forgotten.6”[74]

Again, the end note 6 refers the paper by Montesu & Cottoni. However, Dr. Ramos-e-Silva not only paraphrased the latter’s words, she twisted them as well. Here is what was written by the Italians:

“Immediately afterward, a dispute broke out between Bonomo and Giovanni Maria Lancisi (1654-1720). Lancisi, the pope's chief physician, recognized the presence of the acarus but excluded it as the sole cause of scabies. According to Lancisi, scabies had a humoral origin that preceded the proliferation of the acarus. Lancisi availed himself of his authoritative standing and in the course of the dispute invoked the Scriptures (13.14). Mindful of the fate of Galileo, Bonomo was persuaded not to continue the debate.

Partly because of the difficulty of isolating the acarus, Bonomo's discovery was completely forgotten in the years that followed.”[36]

In other words, Dr. Ramos-e-Silva, apparently on purpose, made the separated paragraphs, and stories, in Montesu & Cottoni’s paper, into an integral and consequential story, by deleting the key adverbial phrase “Partly because of the difficulty of isolating the acarus.”

Condensation with a purpose
Apparently believing the outdated “conflict thesis,” Dr. Ramos-e-Silva deleted the key words “Partly because of the difficulty of isolating the acarus” in Montesu & Cottoni’s paper (left) to write her own words by paraphrasing the latter’s other words. By doing so, Dr. Ramos-e-Silva successfully transferred the blame for the delayed recognition of Bonomo and Cestoni’s discovery from their own fault to the Catholic Church.

The Brazilian version of the story was retold by the Chinese scifool writer Fang, an ardent believer in the conflict theory, faithfully:

“Redi published Bonomo’s letter as a booklet, which immediately caused dispute. The major opponent was the Pope's chief physician Lancisi. Although Lancisi recognized the presence of the scabies bug, but he didn’t believe the bug was the cause of scabies, and he, based on literature, pointed out that body juice factor was the cause of scabies. Since the Pope’s chief physician had spoken, and he also invoked the Bible as his base (scabies was mentioned in Old Testament Leviticus), to avoid the religious persecution suffered by Bruno and Galileo, Bonomo stopped the debate.

“23 years later, in 1710, both Bonomo and Redi had passed away, Cestoni mentioned the discovery of scabies bugs, but he attributed the discovery to himself, didn’t mention Bonomo, therefore some people suspected that Bonomo was Cestoni’s pseudonym used to avoid the religious persecution.

“From that time on, the discovery was not mentioned by any other people and forgotten.”

Obviously, neither the Brazilian dermatologist nor the Chinese scifool writer knew the content of the debate between Bonomo and Lancisi when they wrote their stories. As a matter of fact, the “biomedical expert” Fang even didn’t know that Lancisi’s name had already been translated by China’s medical professionals into 兰奇西 (lán qí xī)[80], which sounds very similar to Lancisi’s Italian pronunciation, so he translated Lancisi into 兰西西 (lán xī xī), obviously based on his limited knowledge in English phonetics.

The fact is, Giovanni Maria Lancisi (1654-1720) was an extremely intelligent and successful anatomist, cardiologist, epidemiologist, urologist, and even a veterinarian[81]. The so called “Lancisi sign”[82] and “longitudinal striae of Lancisi”[83] were named after him. He was the first person who noticed the relationship between swamp and malaria, and he postulated, correctly, that mosquitoes might be responsible for the transmission of the disease[81, 84]. In addition, Lancisi played an important role in stopping the spread of cattle plague in Europe in the 18th century[85].

So, exactly what did Lancisi do to prevent one of the biggest discoveries of the age by his fellow countrymen from being known to the world?

Based on the information available to me[28, 86], it seems that in the entire duration of the controversy, Lancisi was rather patient, polite, and professional, and I see no sign of him trying to force his idea upon Bonomo with his position or the power of the Church. On the contrary, it was Bonomo, or more exactly the person behind him, Cestoni, who was rather aggressive - Cestoni couldn’t hold his anger even 26 years later[87]. Briefly, Lancisi believed that every effect has multiple causes, therefore it is unlikely the mite would be responsible for all the “pellicello,” an Italian term for scabies, and like the latter, it was sometimes used to refer all kind of skin itching diseases. Further, Lancisi pointed out the fact that Bonomo failed to find the mite in all the vesicles. Finally, Lancisi believed that the experience acquired by a few persons could not be used to overthrow the knowledge and experience accumulated for many centuries.

To some extent, Lancisi’s arguments are still valid today. As mentioned above, according to Koch's postulates, to identify a pathogen, one has to complete 4 steps: find the agent in all the diseased patients; isolate the agent and prepare its pure culture; inoculate the agent on healthy hosts to produce the same disease; isolate the agent again from the new patients. Etiologically, Bonomo and Cestoni’s investigation hardly completed the first step, they even didn’t demonstrate that killing the mite could cure scabies, or the cured patients were free of the mite. Therefore, to a person with professional medical training, their assertion was at most a hypothesis waiting for proof. No wonder the theory was not even accepted by their compatriots[88], and even Francesco Redi, the very person who smashed the spontaneous generation theory and published Bonomo’s letter to himself, seemed to have his reservation[89]. As a matter of fact, even a century after the discovery, some people were still refusing to accept Bonomo and Cestoni’s conclusion with a valid argument:

“Although I will not deny that worms really exist in the pustules of the itch, yet their presence is no proof that they are to be regarded as its cause. It is quite as probable that they are in some way or other generated by the disease; for we find worms in ulcers and wounds, and yet no one would assert that these worms give rise to the ulcers.”[90]

So, what about “the Scriptures” invoked by Lancisi during the debate? Well, in a letter he sent to Bonomo, Lancisi, besides citing other medical writers, cited many legends or stories, such as Egyptians believed that eating long lentil could get mange and lepra; Seneca people believed that certain water and drinks could make people itchy, so did the Bible prohibit the chosen people from eating pork[86]. Considering the fact that the Bible was cited together with many local and folk traditions, it is extremely overreaching to say that Lancisi was trying to silence Bonomo with the authority of the Church. The funny thing is, Fang, apparently not knowing which part of the Bible, and in what context, was invoked by Lancisi, wrote the following sentence in his article: “scabies was mentioned in Old Testament Leviticus.” Obviously, Fang didn’t know the fact the term scabies only exists in certain English versions of the Bible, in the others, it has been replaced by sore, plaque, and scall[91].

4. The Worshipers of Ferdinand Hebra

In Fang’s article, there are more jokes which also serve as the ironclad evidences for Fang’s stealing from Dr. Ramos-e-Silva. Here is a paragraph written by Fang:

“From that time on, the discovery was not mentioned by any other people and forgotten. Physicians would still believe that scabies was caused by humoral factor. It was till 1834, when a student named Renucci re-discovered that the scabies bug is the cause of scabies, which aroused the interested in the medical community. In 1844, Hebra, by self-experiments, elaborated the etiology, symptom, and treatment of the disease, which settled once and for all the problem of scabies. Hebra also made a eulogy of Bonomo and Cestoni's original research, and their names were written into history because of that. Bonomo has been considered in the medical history the first person who ever identified the pathogen of a disease, and by that time, more than 150 years had passed since his great discovery.”

Please pay attention to the phrases and the sentence highlighted in bold.

(1) Confusion by Insertion

Fang’s above paragraph was apparently based on the following two paragraphs by Dr. Ramos-e-Silva:

“It was only in 1834, almost two centuries later, that Renucci, a young student, re-established the fact that the acarus was the cause of scabies.14 After this, a period of intense investigation on scabies began, and Ferdinand Hebra (1816–1880), by particular self-experiments, did the most to settle once and for all the problem of scabies. He published his views on the diagnosis, etiology, and treatment of this disease in 1844, and presented a eulogy of Bonomo’s and Cestoni’s work.15”[74]

“……and, finally in 1927, Razzauti came across Bonomo's signed letter which had been preserved in the Library of Fraternità di S. Maria of Arezzo.14 Its publication that year proved that, in fact, the discovery of the acarian origin of scabies preceded Renucci's paper and its official scientific recognition by 150 years.3”[74]

Although Dr. Ramos-e-Silva cited 3 references in the above two paragraphs, it is very likely that her writing was primarily based on the following 3 paragraphs by Montesu & Cottoni:

“……But in 1834, a young student named François Simon Renucci, who had learned how to extract the acarus from the poor women of his native Corsica, proved its existence in Paris and reestablished the fact that the acarus was the cause of scabies (3,7).

“A period of intensive clinical and experimental research on scabies by numerous investigators throughout Europe followed on Renucci's rediscovery of the Acarus scabiei. No one, however, did more to settle, once and for all, the various problems of scabies than Ferdinand Hebra (1816-80), who published his views on the diagnosis, etiology, and treatment of this disease in 1844 (15).

“In 1925, Alberto Rezzauti came across Bonomo's signed letter which had been preserved in the Fraternita de Laici of Arezzo. Its publication that year proved that in fact the discovery of the acarian origin of scabies preceded its official scientific recognition by 150 years.”[36]

The problem is, when Dr. Ramos-e-Silva paraphrased these 3 paragraphs into her two paragraphs, she inserted two more paragraphs, consisting of a total of 173 words, in between, all seemed to be from Beeson’s review:

“Hebra also stated that Giovanni Cinelli Calvoli, in 1689, claimed to have seen the acarus 10 years before Cestoni. Calvoli declared that a certain Protasio Felice Salvetti, whom he had employed to make drawings, had revealed his research to Bonomo and Cestoni. Despite his claims to priority in the discovery of the itch mite, Calvoli, it is said, did not regard it as the cause of scabies.13,15 It is also claimed that, before Bonomo and Cestoni, Scaliger in 1557, Joubertus in 1577, Fallopius in 1584, Rondelet in 1592, Vidius in 1586, and Schenck in 1600 knew and wrote about the acarus. Some of these authors, however, confused it with lice, which was not an uncommon error at that time or even later.5

“Favarielle, in a thesis on scabies, written in Paris in 1805, still affirmed it was produced by a syphilitic or a scorbutic infection of the humors and by a degeneration of transpiration.5

“It was Cumston, in 1924, who credited Bonomo for the discovery and the first description of Sarcoptes scabiei,5……”[74]

Expansion with a purpose
The 3 consecutive paragraphs in Montesu & Cottoni’s paper (left) were adopted by Dr. Ramos-e-Silva to write 128 words which were distributed in 2 paragraphs (right, highlighted in yellow); however, Dr. Ramos-e-Silva inserted 173 words, all were apparently adopted from Beeson, in between.

Apparently being confused by Dr. Ramos-e-Silva’s insertion, which changed the context of Montesu & Cottoni’s paper dramatically, Fang must think that it was in 1844 and by Hebra that Bonomo’s discovery was “rediscovered,” so he, who is extremely proud of his elementary arithmetic knowledge, changed Dr. Ramos-e-Silva’s “the discovery of the acarian origin of scabies preceded Renucci's paper and its official scientific recognition by 150 years” to his own “Bonomo has been considered in the medical history the first person who ever identified the pathogen of a disease, and by that time, more than 150 years had passed since his great discovery.” Obviously not certain about his own judgment, Fang used the vague phrase “more than 150 years” instead of giving an exact number, 157 years. How calculating! Unfortunately, Fang’s calculation was based on a wrong assumption.

(2) Hebra’s Tide-turning Eulogy

According to Dr. Ramos-e-Silva, in his 1844 paper, Hebra “presented a eulogy of Bonomo’s and Cestoni’s work.” Since Dr. Ramos-e-Silva also claims that Bonomo’s “discovery was completely forgotten” after his debate with Lancisi, Hebra’s eulogy must constitute the re-discovery of Bonomo’s work. And it must be based on such an understanding that Fang asserted that Bonomo had been forgotten for “more than 150 years.”

As I have demonstrated above, Bonomo’s discovery had never been forgotten: from the very beginning of its publication in 1687, it served as the guidance and inspiration for every major breakthrough in the etiological studies on scabies: from German Johann Ernst Wichmann to English Joseph Adams to French Jean-Chrysanthe Galès. So, even though Dr. Hebra indeed eulogized Bonomo and Cestoni in 1844, what kind of difference would it have made? On the other hand, the paper, entitled either “Ueber die Krätze”[92], or “Über Diagnose, Aetiologie und Therapie der Krätze[24], depending on to whom you listen, was published in an obscure journal “Medizinische Jahrbücher” and in German, and it seems that there are few people in the world who have ever read it – I myself tried to retrieve the paper via the Interlibrary loan system, but failed. What’s even more bizarre is that Dr. Ramos-e-Silva cited 15 references, but she didn’t list this important one on her reference list. That being said, Dr. Hebra’s eulogy of Bonomo and Cestoni in the 1860s had indeed consolidated their status, mainly because of Hebra’s own status in the dermatology community.

The question is: where did Dr. Ramos-e-Silva get her idea which misled her Chinese disciple Fang? A plausible answer to the question is in the next paragraph she paraphrased from Beeson:

“It was Cumston, in 1924, who credited Bonomo for the discovery and first description of Sarcoptes scabiei,5……”[74]

Here is what Beeson wrote:

“Cumston,27 in 1924, credited Bonomo with discovering and first describing Acarus scabiei. In his opinion, Alibert and his eminent opponents would have avoided twenty-two years of labor and discussion had they known the history of cutaneous pathology.”[21]

Since Bonomo and Cestoni were completely forgotten before Hebra made his eulogy in 1844, and it took another 80 years for another person to recognize their discovery, then Hebra’s eulogy must be of the paramount importance.

Of course, the presumption on which the entire argument was based is false. Charles Greene Cumston, a Swiss “Lecturer on the History of Medicine and Medical Philosophy in the University of Geneva,” and the “President-elect Vth International Congress of the History of Medicine,” must have not read Galès’ thesis, therefore he made a wrong assumption that the French group didn’t know the Italian discovery. As mentioned above, Galès translated the entire letter of Bonomo’s from Latin to French, and the purpose of his research was to make sure whether the theory proposed by the Italian was right.

Dr. Cumston’s ignorance in entomology in general, and in itch mite in particular, was crudely ridiculed by Dr. George Pernet, a “Consulting Dermatologist and late Lecturer on Dermatology in the Post-Graduate Medical College”:

“In his ‘Remarks on the History of the Discovery of the Acarus scabiei’ (Brit. Journ. of Dermatology, 1924, p. 13), Dr. Cumston, of Geneva, states that the description of the parasite by Galès (1812) was ‘very exact, since he had counted six pairs of legs and distinguished the male from the female.’ Now six pairs of legs would make a total of twelve legs, which is absurd, as Euclid would have said, for every dermatologist knows that the adult Acarus never exhibits more than four pairs of legs—that is, eight legs in all.

“Dr. Cumston then quotes old Richard Mead, who described six legs. This would apply to the larval stage before the creature developed into a small female-like nymph; and later into adult males and females with eight legs. Strictly speaking the acarus is an arachnid, not an insect.”[50]

Therefore, it is really absurd for anyone to cite Cumston’s paper to demonstrate anything - except for that the discovery by Bonomo and Cestoni was “completely forgotten for about 150 years,” which, of course, is a false statement, and it does need the supports from false evidences.

(3) Hebra’s Particular “Self-experiments”

When Dr. Ramos-e-Silva praised Ferdinand Hebra by saying that he “did the most to settle once and for all the problem of scabies” “by particular self-experiments” introduced in a paper published in 1844, along with his “eulogy of Bonomo’s and Cestoni’s work,” she gave the following references:

“15 Hebra F. On the Diseases of the Skin, Including the Exanthemata. London: New Sydenham Society, 1868: 175–178. (See also Beeson5 and Montescu and Cottoni6)”[74]

The problem is, none of these cited references had said that Hebra performed self-experiments. Of course, “Montescu” and Cottoni didn’t say that (see the quoted paragraphs above), neither did Beeson, nor did Hebra himself. Here is what Beeson wrote:

“Hebra contributed an accurate article on the itch and its parasite in 1844. He described the gallery in detail, and concluded that if there was no Acarus, there was no itch. He maintained that the disorder was transmitted by the scratching of the patient, thus opening up the burrows and transferring the mites on the finger-nails, either to another person or to a different portion of his own body.”[21]

In the second volume of his monumental On Diseases of the Skin, its English translation was published in 1868, Hebra did repeatedly mention his paper published in 1844, he even reiterated what he did back then: by using different ways of treatment, he demonstrated that scabies is a local infection, even though the itching is systemic[93]; however, he never said that he had conducted “self-experiments,” which, according to my, as well as Fang’s, understanding, means using himself as an experimental material, such as a host for inoculation. The only possible source of Dr. Ramos-e-Silva’s statement seems to be the following paragraph in Hebra’s book:

“Unfortunately, however, I have not as yet been able to discover, along the numerous substances with which I have myself experimented, or in any of those recommended by other writers, a remedy which completely satisfies these conditions. I must, therefore, content myself with enumerating the medicinal agents and plans of treatment which approach most nearly to what is required.”[94]

Obviously, in the paragraph, Dr. Hebra was the subject, rather than an object, of the experiments.

On the other hand, the so called “self-experiments” had been conducted many times before 1844: in 1791, German Wichmann described that two of his friends inoculated the itch mite on themselves[95]. As already mentioned above, in 1801, English physician Joseph Adams inoculated himself with the mite[52]. Also as mentioned already, French Albin Gras conducted self-experiment in 1834[72]. Therefore, had Hebra indeed conducted “self-experiments,” their “particularity” must be very limited, God knows how could these “self-experiments……settle once and for all the problem of scabies.”

(4) Hebra’s Ultimate “Settlement”

Dr. Ramos-e-Silva’s statement that Ferdinand Hebra “did the most to settle once and for all the problem of scabies” was indeed based on what was said by Montesu and Cottoni:

“No one, however, did more to settle, once and for all, the various problems of scabies than Ferdinand Hebra (1816-80), who published his views on the diagnosis, etiology, and treatment of this disease in 1844 (15).”[36]

The reference #15 is Hebra’s book published in 1868. However, it seems to me that Dr. Hebra didn’t say anything remotely like that. As a matter of fact, he stated explicitly that many progresses had been made by himself and other people after 1844:

“My own views with reference to the diagnosis, etiology, and treatment of scabies were first published in the year 1844.1 Since that time I have repeatedly had occasion to write upon this subject, and I would especially direct the attention of my readers to a paper which appeared in 1852,2 and in which I first made known in Germany the existence of a peculiar form of the disease, termed by me the ‘Scabies Norvegica (Norwegische Krätze).’

“Soon afterwards the accuracy of my statements was confirmed, from their own observations, by several writers (Fuchs, of Gottingen, Bamberger, of Wiirzburg, and, lastly, Gumpert, of Wiirzburg, and Kohn, of Bonn); and the writers last named collected together the scattered notices of this affection which had then been published and laid them before the profession in a separate work.

“Most valuable papers on scabies have also been recently published by Reinhardt, Lanquetin, Leydig, and Rudolph Bergh (of Copenhagen). To the writer last named must be especially attributed the credit of having shown that the male acarus is present in much larger numbers than had been supposed. Karl Seggel also, and M. H. F. Fürstenberg, have lately written on the subject of scabies. The work of Fürstenberg upon the acarus may, indeed, be said to be unique. One does not know which to admire more, the comprehensiveness and solidity of the observations contained in it, or the indefatigable industry and fidelity of the author.”[97]

As a matter of fact, Hebra complained that as late as 1863, Marie-Guillaume-Alphonse Devergie (1798-1879), a prominent dermatology professor at the University of Paris, still believed that “scabies may be a spontaneous disease.”[98] So much for “settling, once and for all, the various problems of scabies” in 1844!

On the other hand, I have failed to find such lavish eulogy of Hebra on his scabies research by his contemporaries and the nearest generations. For example, in a book about scabies, Krätze und Räude by Andreas Christian Gerlach, published in 1857 in Berlin, Hebra’s name was only connected to the discovery of the Norwegian scabies[99]. Similarly, Sir Erasmus Wilson (1809-1884) never mentioned Hebra’s name in his On Diseases of the Skin published in 1847; and in the later editions, he did mention Hebra’s name, however, these mentioning were not about what Hebra did “to settle once and for all the problem of scabies,” but rather about his work on the identification of the Norwegian scabies and the treatment of the common scabies[100]. Also, in Dr. Henry Weightman Stelwagon’s Treatise on Diseases of the Skin[101], Hebra’s name was mentioned about 50 times, but none of them were connected to his research on scabies.

Nonetheless, the following statement, made by Dr. Moriz Kaposi, Hebra’s colleague at the Vienna University, somewhat resembles the statement by Montesu and Cottoni, as well as the one by Ramos-e-Silva:

“But Hebra’s classical work (1844), ‘Ueber Diagnose, Aetiologie und Therapie der Krätze,’ finally placed the subject on the solid foundation of clinical and experimental facts.”[24]

I do believe that the assessment is more accurate and objective, and I don’t think “finally placed the subject on the solid foundation of clinical and experimental facts” equals to “did the most to settle once and for all the problem of scabies.”

I have also found the following passages in a review published in 1920 in Parasitology:

“This was the condition of things when in 1843 Bourguignon, who was at the Veterinary College at Alfort under Prof. Delafond, undertook his admirable study of human scabies. He handed in his Trailé entomologique in 1846, but it was not published till 1852. Meanwhile Hebra was at work in Vienna, and Eichstedt in Germany. Bourguignon does not seem to have known of Eichstedt's work, which included a remarkably fine study of the galleries of Sarcoptes, the arrangement of the eggs in them, the phenomena of moulting etc., but he had some acquaintance with Hebra's investigations, and questions of priority arose in 1845 between Hebra and Bourguignon. Of this period also is the work by Gurlt and Hertwig on human scabies (1844).

“……Gerlach published his Krätze und Räude in 1857; Furstenberg his Kräitzmilben der Menschen und Thiere in 1861; and Delafond and Bourguignon their Traité pratique in 1862.

“The fine works of Bourguignon, Gerlach and Furstenberg are generally regarded as the classical publications on this subject, and deserve a special notice. They present a remarkable variety of style and outlook.”[102]


Fang Zhouzi’s anti-Han Han article A Dispute Caused by a Parasite was almost completely translated, without any attribution, from the paper by Brazilian dermatologist Dr. Ramos-e-Silva. Besides systematic similarities, Fang duplicated in his article several key mistakes or dubious assertions made by Dr. Ramos-e-Silva, which serve as the ironclad evidence for his stealing, as Fang said in 1999:

“The U.S. court convicts plagiarism using ironclad evidences: the original author’s technical mistakes, such as citation errors, typos, are made by plagiarists. So some publishers leave some small errors on purpose in their publications for the evidence to accuse other people’s plagiarism.”[103]

Although Dr. Ramos-e-Silva’s mistakes are not technical, they are, at least some of them, unique. In addition, Fang, who had neither training nor knowledge in the history of science or medicine, has a decades-long plagiarist history, which could also be used as the indirect evidence for his stealing in the court of law. As a matter of fact, minutes after Fang posted his article on Weibo, people began to accuse him of plagiarism, simply based on his “reputation” as China’s most celebrated plagiarist:

“Where did you plagiarize this article?”[104]

“Is this article by Fang Zhouzi a plagiarism also? There is not a single note and citation whatsoever.”[105]

“You have plagiarized again. When will you clarify your own problems? For your own interest, you even don’t care about your wife, sickening.”[106]

“Just plagiarized another article?”[107]

“It’s plagiarism!!!!”[108]

“Faint, even in a plagiarized article [you] could not forget about Han Han.”[109]

“Is it a plagiarism, Fang Zhouzi?”[110]

Eight months ago, when I started studying the Hanly War, I found the above evidence and reported my finding to Xinhua Daily Telegraph[111], the very newspaper which published the stolen article. However, like my other 7 complaint reports sent to them[112], not only has it been ignored by the newspaper completely, it has been invisible to Fang Zhouzi too. Apparently, to some media and institutions, plagiarism is tolerable or acceptable, and the John Maddox Prize winner Fang simply lives on stealing.

The fact is, what Fang has been doing in China is much worse than stealing: by semi-selective and semi-blind stealing, Fang uses public platforms to advance his personal and evil agenda, such as attacking his personal enemies and promoting the interests of his sponsors, in the name of science popularization and fraud fighting, which does nothing but destroy the reputation of science and the creditability of other people’s authentic anti-fraud efforts. Ironically, Fang’s evildoings have been hailed and acclaimed by some leading science media in the West, such as Science magazine and journal Nature, which does make us wonder:Why?

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