People complain that ministers in the cabinet Iran’s recently selected President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s government will say things so outlandish no one else would even think of saying them, but Declan Butler over at the Nature blog, The Great Beyond, begs to differ. Take Iran’s Science Minister, Kamran Daneshjou. Daneshjou’s credentials had been questioned in an LA Times report in August, but Butler has found that a paper co-authored by Daneshjou contains genuine peer-reviewed science. The only fly in the ointment is that it doesn’t seem to be Daneshjou’s science:
Large chunks of text, figures, and tables in a 2009 paper co-authored by Kamran Daneshjou, Iran’s science minister, are identical to those of a 2002 paper published by South Korean researchers, Nature has learned. Daneshjou served as the head of the interior ministry office which ran the disputed presidential elections in June, which returned Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to power. Daneshjou is also a former governor general of Tehran. (Declan Butler, The Great Beyond, Nature blog)
More details on the source (a paper by South Korean scientists entitled “Ricochet of a tungsten heavy alloy long-rod projectile from deformable steel plates”) at The Great Beyond, Nature magazine’s blog counterpart to Science magazine’s ScienceInsider blog (I hope the comparison doesn’t piss off both of these worthy rivals; you should be reading each of them anyway, or you’ll miss great scoops like this one by Declan Butler, who also engineered a historic special issue in Nature on flu pandemics at a time when the scientific press was pretty much still asleep at the wheel. (NB: The URL for Butler’s fictional blog account of a pandemic in Nature linked in my 2005 post has been changed. Use this one.). Both the Nature blog and the Science blog are written by a team of accomplished, professional science journalists, a life form on the endangered species list. You can do science journalism and yourself a lot of good by reading them daily. We do.
Anyway, it’s good to know that Iran has a scientist designing voting techniques who isn’t shy of employing the methods of others, like those pioneered in the world famous electoral engineering laboratories of Russia, Afghanistan and Florida. It’s all part of a hallowed science-based tradition that data drives policy.
Or did I get that backwards?
Update: Butler provides more details on the plagiarized South Korean paper, the news that the Springer journal where it was published has formally retracted it, and evidence of still another plagiarized paper from Ahmadinejad’s Science Minister.