Some of you in the atheisphere remember what happened this past year with ‘Tom Johnson’ and the ‘Youre Not Helping’ blog. Quick recap from Jerry:

On October 22 of last year, Chris Mooney put up a post at The Intersection called “Counterproductive attacks on religion–exhibit A.” The “exhibit” was an excerpt from an earlier comment on that website by someone named “Tom Johnson.” Johnson claimed that he was a biologist who had gone to “conservation events” (that is, outreach meetings designed to educate people about conservation), and that atheists had behaved very badly at these events, yelling and screaming at religious people for their faith and thereby turning them off. Mooney elevated Johnson’s comment to a full post to buttress Mooney’s frequent assertion that “new atheists,” through their stridency, thoughtlessness, and lack of respect for others, were hurting their cause by driving people away from science.
… The situation was further exacerbated when it turned out that “Tom Johnson” had also created an anonymous website called “You’re Not Helping,” which excoriated various atheist bloggers, including myself, for their counterproductive messages. “Johnson” was then caught engaging in “sock-puppetry” (making mutually supportive comments under a variety of names) on not only his own website, but on other blogs like The Intersection and even here. Chastened, he took down the You’re Not Helping website and confessed to sock-puppetry.
… I have spoken to TJ’s advisor (Johnson is a graduate student at a university in the South), and have learned more of the details from that person. TJ has apologized to me by email for his actions, and says he will be apologizing to others soon. His advisor and his university are looking at his actions to see if any formal academic transgressions occurred.

Tom Johnson was a graduate student using and abusing anonymity to lie about and abuse scientists and vocal atheists. He wanted to intimidate people into silence.

But ‘Tom’ ‘only’ abused scientists personally.

You know how I just wrote about trust in science? And how I freak the fuck out if someone calls me a liar, or another scientist accuses another of fraud with zero evidence? Someone is now harassing scientists, their colleagues, journals, and universities with idiotic accusations of fraud:

That’s what happened twice last week, when a group calling itself ‘Stem Cell Watch’ sent e-mails claiming evidence of fraud in recent publications from prominent stem-cell researchers. “We are continuing to point out suspicious results and duplications reported by scientists in the stem-cell field,” the group wrote.

There is no indication that any of its accusations are correct, but the group has rattled a rapidly moving field that is accustomed to controversy, causing researchers to fear for their credibility and forcing journal editors to re-examine published work.

Stem Cell Watch provides little information about its members. They claim to be students majoring in biology who discuss papers taught in class.

Pro-tip tip Nature and scientists in this article: Id bet a pic of my boobs that ‘Stem Cell Watch’ is a ‘group’ the way ‘Youre Not Helping’ was a ‘group’. I bet it is one person. I also bet its an Evangelical or Very Catholic person, because it takes a very special kind of arrogance for a biology undergrad to accuse PNAS/Nature authors of fraud with ‘image appears weird’. Not “We cannot replicate these results”, not “Photoshop analysis (enclosed) clearly indicated image manipulation”, but “image appears weird.” Sounds like s BibloBio major who is using a class on stem cells as an opportunity for Christian ‘scientific’ vigilantism (both papers mentioned as targets utilized embryonic stem cells, coincidence of coincidences).

Pro-tip to the asshole doing this: You. Are. A. Moron. I dont know whether you are a random anti-stem cell nutter or an overly excited science avenger, but you are doing this, quite possibly, the dumbest way I can imagine. If you are doing this in good faith, you should be mortified I think you are dumb enough to be a BibloBio major. You know why I think youre that dumb? Because your accusations are that dumb.

One of Stem Cell Watch’s missives last week stated that images of the same cells had been used more than once, but with different coloration, in a 2009 paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (S. Friling et al. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 106, 7613-7618; 2009 ). Indeed they were the same cells, retort the corresponding authors, Johan Ericson and Thomas Perlmann at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, but the images were appropriate because multiple proteins in the cells had been labelled with differently coloured fluorescent tags. “We appreciate any opportunity to respond to critique or concerns raised about our work,” Perlmann and Ericson said in a written statement. “However, we regret that these serious accusations were made anonymously, as we strongly believe in the concept of an open and transparent communication about suspected errors in published data.”

Dude, you are a fucking undergrad. You dont know shit yet. You might think you understand papers, but you might not totally get it. I was an undergrad too– I did the same damn thing. But when I didnt understand shit, I didnt email Nature screaming ‘FRAAAAAAAAAAUD!’ I went to fucking ‘Current Protocols’ and my biochem books and tried to figure out what I was missing. Your first instinct when you dont understand something should be to learn something. Not fucking fraud. At this stage in your career, if you dont understand something, its almost certainly because of you. Take responsibility for it, instead of harassing other people.

And just so you know, the internet isnt anon.

I know youre behind seven proxies, but one of these days, you are going to email a /b/tard PI, and you will be outed. I can tell you exactly what every grad school ap, article, and grant proposal with your name on it will look like:

Image appears weird. Fraud suspected. Strongly suggest rejection.

You wanna know what your future looks like if you dont straighten your shit out ‘Stem Cell Watch’? Ask Tom Johnson.

There is a way we deal with fraud in the scientific community, and it aint the way youre doing it, bud. Grow the fuck up.

Comments

  1. #1 Zombie
    October 27, 2010

    Image appears wierd. I can tell by the pixels, and I’ve seen a lot of wierds. :P

  2. #2 CW
    October 27, 2010

    I love reading your blog. I sometimes don’t understand it, but I do enjoy it. I’m glad I found out about you on an episode of The Conspiracy Skeptic (great job on that, by the way).

  3. #3 sinned34
    October 27, 2010

    “Image appears weird”? Reminds me of a certain politician/physician claiming the ability diagnose the degree of consciousness in a brain-injured subject by watching a video tape of her.

  4. #4 Reinard
    October 27, 2010

    I understand that all accusations of fraud need to be looked into, but why should anyone take these anonymous accusations seriously? If they aren’t brave enough to sign their name or give more serious critiques than “this looks weird” or “someone changed the color” then they should be ignored.

    Also, does this remind anyone else of the time Andy Schlafly went after Richard Lenski? This looks like another uneducated idiot charging into battle with a foam sword.

  5. #5 JohnV
    October 27, 2010

    “One of Stem Cell Watch’s missives last week stated that images of the same cells had been used more than once, but with different coloration [snip] but the images were appropriate because multiple proteins in the cells had been labelled with differently coloured fluorescent tags.”

    That’s pure comedy gold right there. As soon as I read the first part I was sure the dumbasses didn’t understand it was the same cells with different lasers shooting the samples or whatever. Fucking morons.

  6. #6 Ophelia Benson
    October 27, 2010

    Of course it’s hard to ask Tom Johnson, because it’s not public knowledge who TJ is, nor is it public knowledge what happened to him. It wasn’t career-enhancing, and that’s a fact. But it wasn’t as career-trashing as it would have been if the whole thing were public knowledge.

  7. #7 gillt
    October 27, 2010

    As far as I’m concerned Tom Johnson has never come clean. At no point did he stop lying. Even when he was confessing and apologizing over one thing he was lying about another.

    I’d expect the same thing when Image Appears Weird gets outed. The lies and disinformation will never stop.

  8. #8 Tyler DiPietro
    October 27, 2010

    To be fair, we all owe Tom Johnson our gratitude for one thing. He finally did in what was left of Chris Mooney’s credibility.

  9. #9 Joshua Zelinsky
    October 27, 2010

    I’d be worried about making that bet. I imagine that after seeing that sort of stakes will prompt some people of a variety of genders and sexual orientation to consider tracking down this group and joining it just to make sure it has multiple people.

    Wait, am I supposed to add something substantive to this conversation? Um, let’s see: Can I just add how happy I am that I do math? We don’t need to worry about people with weird religious ideas causing them to attack our findings and publications. We get crazies occasionally but they aren’t generally as much of a problem as biologists get.

  10. #10 Joshua Zelinsky
    October 27, 2010

    Also, echoing your remarks about undergrads shouldn’t expect to understand everything I’d argue that even grad students shouldn’t expect to understand everything in many fields. While I can’t speak about biology as much, I regularly encounter papers where I don’t understand the details or go to talks that have parts that I don’t pick up on. If I have time and care about the paper then I try to understand it. And sometimes it seems to just require way too much background or time or hits some area of abstraction that I just don’t grok (n-categories are one of the worst offenders). That doesn’t lead me to think that some sort of evil scheme is being perpetrated.

  11. #11 Christoffel Robertus
    October 27, 2010

    I’ve had the misfortune of having to accuse my supervisor’s (at the time) co-investigator of fraud. Before going to my supervisor I went and found the actual slide and the field of view that was published. Then I took my own pictures and made sure it could be manipulated the way I thought. I took about a month to gather the evidence and go over it before speaking up. Still, I post this anon because I don’t want my actual name attached to the whole business.

    Those pics from PNAS are so obviously the same cells showing different proteins, it’s not even funny to think they’ve committed fraud. In fact, I’ve published pictures like that myself. The entire point is that THEY’RE THE SAME FUCKING CELLS.

  12. #12 idlemind
    October 28, 2010

    Well, it could be worse. They could be climatologists –though I guess the latter are more used to having a rain of fecal matter flung in their direction.

  13. #13 MitoScientist
    October 28, 2010

    Wait, if these people are supposedly undergrads, why is anyone senior in the field even remotely taking their opinions seriously….

  14. #14 Ben Breuer
    October 28, 2010

    To one-up ERV in the OP and Joshua Zelinsky @10:

    Not just undergrads or grads but even seasoned researchers shouldn’t expect to understand everything. They just know better what they don’t understand, and tackle what they do. And those “gaps” aren’t faults of the system (science) but features: they make it worthwhile becoming an undergrad, a grad, a postdoc, and to do research for life.

    Or am I overly optimistic?

  15. #15 jose
    October 28, 2010

    “an unexpected allegation of scientific misconduct broadcast to colleagues and journalists without any clue as to where the accusation is coming from or how to respond to it.”

    Classic throwing loads of mud hoping that some of it will stick.

  16. #16 techskeptic
    October 28, 2010

    Id bet a pic of my boobs that ‘Stem Cell Watch’ is a ‘group’ the way ‘Youre Not Helping’ was a ‘group’. I bet it is one person.

    Well here’s to hoping that it’s two people.

  17. #17 Emerson
    October 28, 2010

    This is a lot like the Lenski affair. When Aschlafly wrote in to PNAS and they replied “I think Letters published in PNAS should raise points that in themselves, or in conjunction with the authors’ response, should be of wide interest to the readership of PNAS or should illuminate some obscure or subtle point. The issues raised by Mr. Schlafly are neither obscure nor subtle, but are part of everyday statistical analysis at a level too elementary to need rehearsal in the pages of PNAS.”

    @Techskeptic, I had the same damn thought. Hit that line and it took me about 45 seconds to be able to read more, oh humans are weak.

  18. #18 qbsmd
    October 28, 2010

    Also, does this remind anyone else of the time Andy Schlafly went after Richard Lenski? This looks like another uneducated idiot charging into battle with a foam sword.

    My first thought was “I smell Conservapaedia”. I should probably check whether that site has already jumped on this, indicating that they knew about it early.

  19. #19 qbsmd
    October 28, 2010

    Never mind, it looks like they’re focused entirely on election politics right now. And they would probably be bragging about their involvement anyway; anything to be relevant.

  20. #20 techskeptic
    October 28, 2010

    @emerson

    yeah, I can’t believe I regressed to 10th grade, but alas, there it is.

  21. #21 ErkLR
    October 28, 2010

    @MitoScientist: Because the argument from authority should have little weight? But really, I don’t think anyone is actually taking these allegations seriously. However, it’s not because they’re (probably) undergrads, it’s because the allegations on their own merit are silly.

  22. #22 W. Kevin Vicklund
    October 28, 2010

    So I actually looked at the papers in question (well, the two identified in the Nature letter). The first, where it was pictures of the same cells, I have a modicum of sympathy for the moron. The pictures called out are part of a longer series, and other pictures in the series are of different cells. However, the pictures called out are two pictures from an experimental group, and two from a control group, looking at the same two markers.

    As for the second paper, sorry, no, those are two different embryos. The snout, back of head, spinal curvature, ribcage, and limbs all have different shapes. The reason the figure “looks weird” is either because the entire embryo is larger than the camera’s field of vision (leading to the horizontal black line and repeat of features at the boundary) or because the experimental embryo has a fluorescent marker. I can’t tell which reason they think it’s weird, but there’s nothing wrong with the figure.

  23. #23 dvrvm
    October 28, 2010

    I wouldn’t be surprised if this “group” (i.e. person) was simply a real-life troll who wants to see how much trouble he can generate with the least amount of work, and he is probably laughing his ass off reading the Nature comment. Likely also a /b/tard or something similar. Occam’s Razor makes it kind of unnecessary to invoke other motives…

  24. #24 Paul Browne
    October 29, 2010

    It’s not uncommon for groups that are trying to ban something to frame themselves as “watchdog groups”. The National Vaccine Information Centre must be the classic example, one that Orac has fisked on several occasions http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2010/10/november_1-6_to_be_vaccine_awareness_wee.php

    Another good examle is the animal rights group SAEN, which is a one man outfit rrun by Michael Budkie, which almost always describes itself as a watchdog group in presss releases.

    http://speakingofresearch.com/2009/08/13/federal-agencies-rebut-budkies-misrepresentatio-of-scientific-research/

    Like “Stem Cell Watch” Budkie often makes allegations of fraud against research institutions, based on his misrepresentation of the contents of official documents he obtains by FOI.

    What is worrying is how often journalists fall for the lies told by these faux-watchdog groups, though to be fair the limp responses by some of the research institutions targeted doesn’t help (see http://speakingofresearch.com/2010/09/08/speaking-up-who-does-%E2%80%98no-comment%E2%80%99-work-for/).

    Perhaps it’s not that surprising that other marginal causes are adopting the same tactics.

  25. #25 William Wallace
    October 29, 2010

    Strange. I was recently informed of a supposed error in my work, publically, and arrogantly, by a professor. Upon further discussions, in which I ignored the arrogance and tried to be friendly, he admitted he was wrong. No harm, no foul, and I even helped him cover his public tracks to avoid professional embarrassment.

    If I had been wrong, I would have just made the correction, and given credit. I don’t like being wrong, and welcome review, any review, even if I wouldn’t want to go bowling with the person doing the review.

    But for some reason, in biology or climate change research, personality defects and name calling become the issue when the validity of one’s work is called into question.

    Raises the question: Why so defensive?

  26. #26 W. Kevin Vicklund
    October 29, 2010

    Really, Willy? A professor sent a letter to the school newspaper and the dean accusing you of plagiarism? Because that is the equivalent of what Stem Cell Watch did. This is not an accusation of error, Willy, it’s an accusation of fraud.

  27. #27 JohnV
    October 30, 2010

    Honestly William Wallace? Every time we submit a fucking paper it comes back with a thousand pages of reviewer notess pointing out errors (real or perceived). Every time we submit a grant (well 92% of the time) we get told how its bad for these reasons and not getting funded. That’s life and we work to fix the errors.

    Unless you’re as developmentally challenged as the mental giants behind “stem cell watch” you should very well understand the difference between having errors pointed out and having some mouth breathing student (at best) make up fraud charges in an attempt to destroy your career.

    The comedy value in this whole thing is that “stem cell watch” are so fucking stupid that they don’t understand the basics of fluorescent microscopy so they made the most absolutely dumbass accusation possible :p

  28. #28 William Wallace
    October 30, 2010

    No, the feedback I received was quite public, quite declarative, and under the color of expertise and academic authority.

    After I contacted the person privately asking details about his conclusion and tactfully pointing out conspicuously documented features and explanations that he seemed to have missed, he did admit it he was wrong.

    As a practical mater, the initial and reckless accusation was that I was either ignorant in my field of expertise, or fraudulent. There really wasn’t any other option left given the declarative and authoritative nature of the professor’s pronouncement.

    I will grant that this was not a religious war. It was an instance of a professor who made a rash judgment using only his mental analysis. He was too busy to actually put his own conclusions to the test (and it wouldn’t have taken long), but not so busy that he couldn’t find time to publically embarrass himself with his incorrect assessment (which even if he were correct, could have been better communicated privately).

    Even so, why escalate things? I could have publically embarrassed the good professor, cc’ing his dean, department chair, and colleagues regarding his pompous yet erroneous public pronouncements (in his field of expertise, mind you). But instead, I contacted him as described above, and after he graciously admitted his mistake, and I tactfully offered to help clean up the public and embarrassing record he left, he accepted.

    The comedy value in this whole thing is that “stem cell watch” are so fucking stupid that they don’t understand the basics of fluorescent microscopy so they made the most absolutely dumbass accusation possible :p

    And in my case, the professor displayed ignorance and recklessness that most professors in this field would not accept out of a junior level college student. People make mistakes, even professors. Why publically flog those who you believe attempt to publically flog you?

    Better, in my view, to behave with some decorum, and encourage others to look for real errors. In the end, reviewers and those having their work reviewed will be more productive and take more from the exchange if we don’t do touchdown dances when somebody tries to tackle you.

    If you make a touchdown, better to act as though you’ve done it before.

    But, again, in the fields of evolutionary propaganda, slaughter of human beings, and climate research/social engineering, scientists want the glory and publicity associated with an NFL star, but whine and get Jerry-Springer-petty when they have to deal with Monday morning quarterbacks.

    Why is that?

  29. #29 adpao
    October 31, 2010

    tom johnson is one of those pseudo-pseudonymous people on the internet. a little google sleuthing shows the identity but nobody wants to say it in public bcause everyone will yell “persecution!!! bullying those who don’t agree with you!!!”

    in all it’s not a bad compromise. the person gets to stay protectd from “persecution” but he’s also exposed to those who might want or need to know.

  30. #30 Mithrandir
    October 31, 2010

    William Wallace said:

    After I contacted the person privately

    I just found where your analogy breaks down.

  31. #31 William Wallace
    November 1, 2010

    I just found where your analogy breaks down.

    Yes, I didn’t “simply delete” the communication.”ERV’s source I responded to it, and gently corrected the person who was wrong.

    The comparison of similar situations did break down, you have correctly identified a point where it does, but seem to have missed why this is important.

    Another example was when I caught some folks at Berkeley misrepresenting Diane Dodd’s fruit fly experiments that indicated a trend toward reproductive isolation. I sent them an email, at the urging of somebody from your side (that is, a Darwinist). The folks at Berkeley eventually concurred. And updated their graphics. The corrected graphics can be seen here.

    Sadly, while writing this response, I just checked, and they have created other web pages, and have reverted to using the erroneous graphics that show 100% reproductive isolation juxtaposed with references to Dodd’s experiments, even though Dodd’s experiments did not show this. For example, this diagram shows 100% reproductive isolation in the context of Dodd’s fruit fly experiments.

    That is, Berkeley did correct their misleading graphics on one page, but subsequently depreciated that page, and have reverted back to the very graphic they once admitted was incorrect on their new evolution 101 page.

    Sneaky.

  32. #32 nejishiki
    November 2, 2010

    #31
    From the article:

    Critics argue that Stem Cell Watch is not following scientific etiquette, which says that concerns should be addressed directly and openly to the authors of a paper. Melton says he received a message, addressed only to him, from the group earlier this year. The e-mail accused another stem-cell researcher of misconduct, but because it was anonymous, Melton simply deleted it.

    Emphasis mine. Entirely the right response. Anonymous accusations of fraud are garbage. This is the kind of work an anonymous person would have to send me before I’d care:
    http://main.uab.edu/Sites/reporter/articles/71570/
    And I’d still tell them to direct the letter to the researcher’s school and funding agencies.
    You’ll notice that in this case – the Krishna Murthy case I linked to – the first step was to contact Krishna Murthy with the problems they had discovered.
    http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/56226/

    Gros said that he contacted Murthy about the abnormalities, but the UAB researcher brushed aside his concerns. “Basically we were not satisfied with his answers to the questions,” Gros said. “He could not give an explanation to us.”
    Gros and his colleagues began looking into more of Murthy’s structures and noticing other “abnormal features.” After unsuccessfully trying to get answers from Murthy, they had independent colleagues, including Vriend, analyze the structures and wrote a letter to Nature and to UAB detailing their findings.

    This was done openly. Not some random asshole emailing unrelated researchers. This is how science is actually done.

    Further, those Diane Dodd diagrams are not showing the results of Dodd’s work- they are demonstrating a concept. The results are a set of numbers and raw data. The diagram is a freakin’ cartoon for pedagogical purposes. If you think that’s misleading, you must be pretty easy to fool.
    This cartoon is captioned like this:

    Diane Dodd’s fruit fly experiment suggests that isolating populations in different environments (e.g., with different food sources) can lead to the beginning of reproductive isolation. These results are consistent with the idea that geographic isolation is an important step of some speciation events.

    Emphasis mine. No one was fooled but you.
    Also, learn how to link. All of your links except the first are faulty. Or do you think no one will bother to follow them, where they will find out how pitiful your little complaints are?

  33. #33 Michael Fugate
    November 2, 2010

    @31
    Like that is the only evidence for evolution….
    Reminds me of the classic nonbook by J. Wells “Icons of Evolution”….

  34. #34 William Wallace
    November 2, 2010

    Also, learn how to link. All of your links except the first are faulty.

    I saved a copy of the posting, and every link was fine. Scienceblog parsing scripts couldn’t handle a space between a quotation mark and the first h in http. WordPress powered blogs don’t have this problem. File a bug report with scienceblogs, whiner.

    Regarding your other sniveling errors, initially Berkeley incorrectly summarized Dodd’s work on their page:

    The first steps of speciation have been produced in several laboratory experiments involving “geographic” isolation. For example, Diane Dodd took fruit flies from a single population and divided them into separate populations living in different cages to simulate geographic isolation.

    whereas Dodd stated:

    Nor was the physical isolation alone responsible for the changes in mating behavior, since there was no evidence of behavior isolation between any pair of the four starch-adapted populations nor between any pair of the four maltose-adapted populations.(Dodd 1989)

    I’ll take credit for the new phrasing at the Berkeley website, since I pointed out their erroneous summary, and they acknowledged it and then informed me that they corrected it.

    Yet, you seem to be missing the point. Berkeley also corrected the diagram. But then they created a new page using the old diagram, linked to it instead, and kept the corrected page up, but orphaned.

    Where I come from, misrepresenting a peer reviewed paper on an educational page is more akin to propagandizing than education. Yet, despite their admission that the original diagram was in error, Berkeley has reverted to using the erroneous diagram, yet kept a depreciated/orphaned page around with the correct diagram, which would be useful if I were to ever stop back to check up on them.

    Let’s see if Eugenie Scott of the National Center for Science Education, headquartered in Berkeley’s neighborhood, takes a stand on this misleading science education. (I won’t hold my breath).

    Like that is the only evidence for evolution….

    It does nobody save propagandists any good to overstate Dodd’s results.

  35. #35 nejishiki
    November 2, 2010

    #34
    When people try to check your bullshit and whiny claims, it’s common courtesy to link properly. But go ahead, blame the computer.
    As to the two quotes you juxtaposed, there is nothing contradictory about them at all.
    Really, what happened is this, in script form:

    WW: Hey, why does yer cartoonz diagram show complete reproductive isolation when the results say different? Me no unnerstand…
    Real Scientist: Hmmm… well, I thought we’d dumbed it down enough, but, OK…
    (2 min in Adobe Illustrator later)
    Real scientist: here you go, sonny. Is this for a school project?
    WW: Sir, I am a grown man.
    Real scientist: *snicker* Really?
    WW: Yes. Now to go brag on the internet.

    tl;dr you’re pathetic, and a pedant. I take it you’re also the William Wallace who’s banned at Pharyngula. It takes a heavy load of stupidity to get banned there, but I see you have what it takes.

  36. #36 W. Kevin Vicklund
    November 2, 2010

    I saved a copy of the posting, and every link was fine. Scienceblog parsing scripts couldn’t handle a space between a quotation mark and the first h in http.

    In other words, your links were faulty. “I’m used to sites correcting my errors” is a lame excuse.

    I’ll take credit for the new phrasing at the Berkeley website, since I pointed out their erroneous summary, and they acknowledged it and then informed me that they corrected it.

    Here’s the new phrasing, with the changes from the original bolded and the deletions italicized:

    The first steps of speciation have been produced in several laboratory experiments involving “geographic” isolation. For example, Diane Dodd examined the effects of geographic isolation and selection on fruit flies. She took fruit flies from a single population and divided them into separate populations living in different cages to simulate geographic isolation. Half of the populations lived on maltose-based food, and the other populations lived on starch-based foods. After many generations, the flies were tested to see which flies they preferred to mate with. Dodd found that some reproductive isolation had occurred as a result of the geographic isolation and selection for different food sources in the [two/different] environments: “maltose flies” preferred other “maltose flies,” and “starch flies” preferred other “starch flies.” Although, we can’t be sure, these preference differences probably existed because selection for using different food sources also affected certain genes involved in reproductive behavior. This is the sort of result we’d expect, if allopatric speciation were a typical mode of speciation.

    The summary was not, in fact, erroneous – the part Willy cut out described in greater detail the part that was added. Thus, the changes are merely a reinforcement of what is later expanded upon. (There’s also one other change, in that “different environments” was changed to “two environments” but that is cosmetic). It seems that Willy doesn’t understand the difference between geographic isolation and physical isolation.

    But then they created a new page using the old diagram, linked to it instead, and kept the corrected page up, but orphaned.

    Where I come from, misrepresenting a peer reviewed paper on an educational page is more akin to propagandizing than education. Yet, despite their admission that the original diagram was in error, Berkeley has reverted to using the erroneous diagram, yet kept a depreciated/orphaned page around with the correct diagram, which would be useful if I were to ever stop back to check up on them.

    Nice story bro. Too bad it’s false. In fact, the “new page” was created first. Here is an Internet Archive of the page from April 23, 2004. The wording and diagram from 2004 is exactly the same then as it is now. The page that was corrected wasn’t launched until September 15, 2005, a year and a half later. Neither of these pages have been orphaned. In fact, if you click on the HOME link at the top of the uncorrected page, you will see a link that says “NEW! UNDERSTANDING EVOLUTION HOME” From there, you can navigate to the corrected page.

    What really happened is that they made minor changes to the newer page, but forgot about the older page.

    I don’t have a problem with making the diagram more accurately reflect the experiment than it reflects the concept, but the text and the caption both pointed out that isolation wasn’t complete. By the way, why aren’t you nit-picking about other “misrepresentations” of the experiment in the diagram?

  37. #37 David
    November 15, 2010

    Wait, if these people are supposedly undergrads, why is anyone senior in the field even remotely taking their opinions seriously….