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.