Pharyngula

One author responds

I’ve received email from one of the authors of that bafflingly bizarre paper on mitochondria. I’m still confused.

Dear Dr. Myers

First of all, I am very sorry for that trouble for you.
I found the serious mistakes in the paper during the process of edits, which I confused between the early drafts and the latest versions: I did not check the use of the sentences in the references (more than 200 references). Finally I made serious error to make the final version.
In order to rectify an error, I requested to retract the paper to the editorial office of Proteomics.
Thank you very much for indicating this carelessness.
Based on this good experience, I will study science and prepare a manuscript with caution.
Again, I am very sorry for that trouble for you.

With best regards,

Jin Han

The author is clearly not a native speaker of English, but I can’t criticize that — his English is far better than my Korean. The explanation that this was just a confusion of an early draft simply doesn’t work. We are talking about a peculiar title and a specific, grammatically correct assertion made in the abstract that is not supported in the text, except by a claim of a “mighty creator”. Where did that come from? One of the authors? Someone who assisted them in polishing the language? The instance of plagiarism are also left dangling.

It also doesn’t address the other concern here. If we accept the idea that Warda and Han made a clumsy mistake and submitted the wrong draft, one that was full of errors, we’re still left with the question of how that mess made it through peer review to the stage just prior to publication. Something broke somewhere, and one unfortunate consequence of the retraction of the paper by the authors is that we may not find out what.

The authors don’t need to apologize, especially not to me. All I’m interested in is tracking down how a paper that is so thick with warning signs could get so far through the review process.

Comments

  1. #1 Jake
    February 11, 2008

    If we accept the idea that Warda and Han made a clumsy mistake and submitted the wrong draft, one that was full of errors, we’re still left with the question of how that mess made it through peer review to the stage just prior to publication.

    Not only that, but we need to wonder how the hell a reference to a might creator made it into *any* draft of that paper. I mean, it really makes one wonder about the quality of their research if they’re needing to invoke a might creator to explain their find findings and then editing it out of the paper in subsequent drafts. Lord knows people can’t generally be held too accountable for what’s in their first drafts, but this is distressing no matter when it was said.

  2. #2 Jake
    February 11, 2008

    Quite astounding how I managed to leave the ‘y’ out of “mighty creator” twice in that above post.

  3. #3 stephen murphy
    February 11, 2008

    Jake (#1) is dead on there (and no worries, per your comment #2, about typos – easy to do and many of us make similar errors – one has to distinguish between trivial and substantive mistakes after all).

    As commenters have noted on other threads, how the whole package – plagiarism plus the ID-like language – got missed or added (?) by the whole review process is truly odd. I’ve never seen a case quite like this where the conceptual framework (ID) is “not even wrong” and the substance is a combo of plagiarised work and word salad. Especially for a reasonably high impact journal at that.

  4. #4 IanR
    February 11, 2008

    It’s certainly possible that they could have cut and paste chunks out of other papers as part of the writing process in a foreign language. That’s plausible. But the other stuff? It’s hard to figure that part of the scenario out.

    That said, it’s a massive failure of the peer review system. That said, when you entire system depends on volunteer labour and altruism (often in service of highly profitable publishing companies), it’s bound to fail from time to time.

  5. #5 LisaJ
    February 11, 2008

    Wow, well it sounds like this guy maybe wants to try to redeem himself a bit before it becomes clear that the paper has been retracted – let it be known that he choose to retract it himself (who knows if that’s true or not).

    This really is unfortunate though. As I don’t know these authors at all, I guess that it is possible that someone who translated the manuscript for them is the person(s) responsible for interjecting all of the plagiarism and ‘almighty creator’ crap into it. For sure though the reviewers of the manuscript or the editor are definitely responsible as well, whether directly or indirectly who knows. On another note, how strange for the author to apologize to PZ for causing him trouble. Just strange.

  6. #6 John H. McDonald
    February 11, 2008

    In late spring, which is term-paper-grading time, I make sure I have a box of tissues on my office desk. That way, when I sit a student down and show them the evidence that they’ve plagiarized their term paper, I can hand them a tissue.

    Once they’ve wiped away the tears, they usually say something that sounds a lot like Han’s letter: “I must have turned in an early draft by mistake, I meant to just use those passages as notes and revise them later, I don’t know how that could have gotten in there.” Sometimes they even try “Thank you very much for indicating this carelessness.” Then I tell them that as part of the university’s policy on academic dishonesty, a letter will be sent to their parents, and I hand them another tissue.

    I don’t think we can blame the reviewers or editor for not catching the plagiarism; until you’ve been burned once and start looking for it everywhere, it’s hard to catch. I used Turnitin.com, a commercial service that compares text to their database of student papers, papers from term paper mills, and the Internet, and it only found two of the seven plagiarized sources that are now known (see http://udel.edu/~mcdonald/wardahan.pdf ). The best way to detect plagiarism is by picking out suspiciously well-written phrases and Googling them, and that’s pretty tedious. I don’t think we can expect reviewers (who work for free) or editors (who work for relatively little) to go to all that trouble for every manuscript.

    How the creationism got through the review process is another story; either the reviewers and editor were asleep, or Warda and Han slipped it in during the final revision. It’s interesting that Han’s letter says nothing about that.

  7. #7 Greg Laden
    February 11, 2008

    To be fair, this has to be analyzed in the context of linguistics. I know nothing about korean. But I know a little tiny bit about Chinese. Having a translation error like this might be possible with Chinese (i.e., the meaning being about intelligent design getting inserted somehow by accident).

    I’m not saying that this is likely. But it should be ruled out.

  8. #8 Jay Clayton
    February 11, 2008

    I’d like to echo what John just said, and reinforce the fact these authors not only cut-and-pasted massive amounts from other sources, they did not cite these same sources despite a bibliography of over 200 citations. We’re actually asked to believe the plagiarism is coincidental to the not sourcing. Sorry, but in name, and publicly, I call complete B.S. on that. These authors do not deserve respect- they are liars and thieves.

  9. #9 QrazyQat
    February 11, 2008

    I’ve seen more comprehensible English on Thai T-shirts at the lcal Tesco here (and yes, my Thai would be so much more laughable). Yet the paper is in proper English (if incomprehensible in other ways). Who proofread that, and read the paper plus the correspondence from the author? And then approved it? Who didn’t see the obvious disconnect?

  10. #10 Ahcuah
    February 11, 2008

    I’m not saying this happened, but I wonder if the “mighty creator” could be a translation error, particularly considering the generally broken English shown above (and again, no criticism of the author–as PZ pointed out, he speaks English much better than I speak Korean).

    But I guess even the phrase “major cause” has enough similarities to “mighty creator” that such a mistranslation is possible.

    The real question is how it got past English-speaking editors and peer review.

  11. #11 Bob O'H
    February 11, 2008

    The best way to detect plagiarism is by picking out suspiciously well-written phrases and Googling them, and that’s pretty tedious.

    Shouldn’t that be relatively easy to automate? I guess the difficult bit is automatically picking out relevant results, but even that should be solvable with a bit of thought.

    Looks like computer science masters project!

    Bob

  12. #12 windy
    February 11, 2008

    I can’t resist piling on with the obvious:
    “Based on this good experience, I will study science and prepare a manuscript with caution.”

    That certainly seems like a good idea, although most people start studying science before they submit articles to major journals.

  13. #13 Steve LaBonne
    February 11, 2008

    Isn’t it the editors of Proteomics who apparently need to “study science” a bit more?

  14. #14 writerdd
    February 11, 2008

    No offense to the Korean reviewer of this paper, but if he can’t write English very well, how can he truly claim to understand the details of a paper written in English? I suspect his problems with the English language probably played into this in no small way.

  15. #15 Dead Language Dude
    February 11, 2008

    #14– I don’t disagree with your conclusion, but bear in mind that active and passive use of a foreign language are very different skills. I can read Latin with ease, Icelandic, German and Sanskrit with difficulty, but I would be hard pressed to produce a grammatical, idiomatic letter in any of those languages.

  16. #16 Sigmund
    February 11, 2008

    #14
    He’s not the reviewer, he’s the author.

  17. #17 raven
    February 11, 2008

    WATERGATE!!! WATERGATE!!! WATERGATE!!!

    There are at least 3 issues here.

    1. The plagiarism from multiple sources.

    2. The insertion of religious theories having nothing to do with the subject and not supported by the data at random points. The ID/creo nonsense.

    3. What broke down at Proteomics? Who knew and when did they know? Accidents like Watergate and this really aren’t accidents. The scientific community deserves an explanation otherwise Proteomics will be relegated to the lunatic fringes as an unreliable source.

    Of the 3, the third issue is most important. This is a subversion of the norms of science and science publication, important processes. My guess with little evidence other than the incident, someone in the Proteomics loop is a creationist pushing a religious agenda. It could even be Dunn, the editor. Need an investigation and the facts need to made public.

  18. #18 croor
    February 11, 2008

    maybe the author wrote what he wanted to say to you in korean and translated it using a machine translator. that might explain his saying
    i am sorry for that trouble for you‘.

    can someone who knows korean tell me if this is the case?

  19. #19 Jason B
    February 11, 2008

    *snickering* BUSTED!!!!!!!

    It’s funny watching them backpedal on this one. But I wonder if the scientist in question actually did have a good paper that was butchered and had the offending bits injected and is incredibly EMBARRASSED.

  20. #20 KevinC
    February 11, 2008

    John,

    Why must a students parents be involved in their adult child’s discipline? Do you send letters to parents of students in their 30′s or 40′s or 50′s or older or only if they are younger? As someone who just graduated from college at the age of 45 I find the policy rude and perhaps illegal. It should be up to the student what to tell their parents when they get an F in a class, it is part of growing up. And if their parents are not paying they have no right whatsoever to know unless their child tells them.

  21. #21 Lilly de Lure
    February 11, 2008

    But I wonder if the scientist in question actually did have a good paper that was butchered and had the offending bits injected and is incredibly EMBARRASSED.

    Unfortunately once you take out the “mighty creator” bits and the bits that have been caught as plagiarism there doesn’t seem to be enough left to make up a good sentence, never mind a whole paper.

  22. #22 Glen Davidson
    February 11, 2008

    Creationists typically suck at everything intellectual. While most are true believers, and it is uncertain whether they are creationist due to incompetence, or if it’s the other way around, well, let’s say that they’re just not very good at reviewing science.

    Why didn’t this particular episode become a persecution issue a la Expelled (too bad the plagiarism was found before a river of crocodile tears had been shed over their “persecution”)? The plagiarism, of course. But what a surprise, eh? The wisdom of the mighty creator in the same paper as a bunch of cut and pastes. That’s so, so, Dembski-like.

    See a creationist paper, and you know something went wrong, whether shepherded through the peer review process, or whatever unfathomable mistakes were made at Proteomics. Ethical violations are to be expected wherever creationism/ID raise its ugly head, the first and most obvious ethical violation of science being that these people don’t care about requiring evidence prior to coming to a conclusion.

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/2kxyc7

  23. #23 Abstruse
    February 11, 2008

    My laptop was stolen from a locked lab shortly before papers were due. I thought the situation was a little fishy considering the antiquated nature of my machine (really just a word processor.) So I whined and moaned about how I had no other copies of my paper and how I would have to start from scratch.

    I had a jump-drive with my work on it.
    I finished my paper, turned it in and waited.

    The person who stole my machine turned in my paper almost completely unchanged. I would like to say there were dung and crayon additions, but there really weren’t.

    After the thief was expelled I pressed charges for theft of my machine and recieved restitution for the original cost of my laptop.

    These people deserve whatever comes to them.

  24. #24 windy
    February 11, 2008

    I don’t disagree with your conclusion, but bear in mind that active and passive use of a foreign language are very different skills.

    Writing a scientific paper in English and taking care of the correspondence (he’s the corresponding author!) should qualify as ACTIVE use…

  25. #25 Guido
    February 11, 2008

    #14: That is exactly my point. As non native English speaker, this is highly suspicious to me. Yes, of course Spanish is much closer to English than Korean is, but I bet that Korea has better English teaching than Venezuela. I am not sure if this person is even feigning extremely poor English, since to understand a complex paper in English you need a very good level and even if you cannot write very well, as # 15 says, you must know that what you are writing is awful, as I realize that this message is not proper English, but, much better than Han’s letter.

    I think Han is trying to feign extremely poor English. If he would be so embarassed to write a letter to P.Z., would not he check the grammar and spelling? When I write an important e-mail I try to get it reviewed by somebody whose English is better than mine or who is a native English speaker before I hit “send”. This might be paranoia, but, together with the fact that he remains silent about the ID part and silent about plagiarism, makes it more plausible.

    To state it bluntly: The level of English required to understand a paper on the subject and be asked to do a review (and having published other papers before, this guy is no novice!) is way above this letter’s level. And again, it does not explain what happened. Even if this author is honest and his excellent paper got caught by something, this does not explains his awful English in this communication.

    #3 said: “I’ve never seen a case quite like this where the conceptual framework (ID) is “not even wrong”.

    How about this?:

    “Housing in Pyramid Counteracts Neuroendocrine and Oxidative Stress Caused by Chronic Restraint in Rats”

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17342239?ordinalpos=1&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_RVAbstractPlusDrugs1

    This paper is indexed in Medline. And a lot of quack sites use it to promote superstition and prove it has accepted by science. What is worse, the journal where it was published, eCAM, evidence based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, is published by Oxford Press and has published tons of similar bullshit, including papers by a local scammer, known scientologist who claims to cure AIDS, Cancer, Diabetes, Dengue and almost any known disease. Now this guy claims that “Oxford” recognizes his work (Papers where he quotes Ron Hubbard as part of his new “theory”), and since we, the critics have no papers to the date, he claims to be a new Galileo. This guy, José Olalde, is an Engineer with zero training in Biology or Medicine, but, despite that, he is part of the editorial board of the journal.

    It really pisses me off to see these travesties of peer reviewing, but it pisses me more when they are used to steal from people, to hurt, deceive and give fake hope to them.

    If anybody is interested in more details about this “journal” and its quackery and about our national quackery, here is more extensive account:

    http://globallyconnected.blogspot.com/2007/07/exposing-some-quacks.html

    PS: Please take a look, all these crap-papers are indexed in Medline making claims as wild as Han’s paper and are being used to deceive and make harm.

  26. #26 Attila Csordas
    February 11, 2008

    I got that email from Han too, but it seriously lacks explanation to multiple issues here. I do hope that there will be a Nature or Science op-ed on this scandal accompanied by a real investigation.

  27. #27 Amy
    February 11, 2008

    Isn’t a more appropriate Angel quote this one:

    “Are you crazy? I saw that movie – even the priest died!”

  28. #28 Amy
    February 11, 2008

    Not sure how that happened, that comment was meant for the exorcism post!

  29. #29 Bill Dauphin
    February 11, 2008

    maybe the author wrote what he wanted to say to you in korean and translated it using a machine translator. that might explain his saying
    ‘i am sorry for that trouble for you’.

    can someone who knows korean tell me if this is the case?

    I don’t know Korean (aside from the rudimentary amount required to order a beer or tell a cab driver where to drop me off), but I have spent a year in Seoul teaching English to Koreans, and my wife is still an ESOL teacher who deals with Korean students on a regular basis. I can tell you that this phrase — and the whole text of the letter to PZ — is entirely consistent with what I’d expect a Korean who is not fluent in English to produce. You don’t need to imagine a freaky machine-translation to account for this result.

    As for…

    “Based on this good experience, I will study science and prepare a manuscript with caution.”

    That certainly seems like a good idea, although most people start studying science before they submit articles to major journals.

    …I’ll note that quite aside from linguistic concerns, there are cultural issues at play: There’s a very strong impulse in Korean culture to defer to authority figures, and especially to teachers. Thus, Han’s promise to “study science” should be seen as a formal gesture of humility and deference to PZ, rather than a confession of ignorance. (Which doesn’t mean, of course, that he’s not ignorant.)

    None of this bears on the validity or intellectual honesty of the paper, but it’s always a good idea to understand the potential for cross-cultural misunderstandings.

  30. #30 aporeticus
    February 11, 2008

    #16: He’s not the reviewer, he’s the author.

    He’s the coauthor (if the word “author” even applies) and from the looks of it, he had no clue what was in that paper: “I will study science….” Hah.

    I suspect Warda for concocting this thing and taking Han along for the ride. That doesn’t get Han off the hook for endorsing this garbage.

    Presuming they are guilty as charged, I want no less than their expulsion/firing, an apology from their departments, and a full explanation from the journal.

  31. #31 menglander
    February 11, 2008

    The story is in

    The Harvard Crimson
    this morning.

  32. #32 Carlie
    February 11, 2008

    #6: It’s my understanding that FERPA prohibits the type of parental notification that you describe. I’m surprised if your college would still have that as a policy, because it would be counter to federal law. It’s generally not allowed to discuss anything about the academic performance of someone over the age of 18 with anyone they haven’t given express written permission for, and in some cases it isn’t even done then just to be on the safe side. There have been some challenges to it, some very justified (like notifying when a 19 year old has flunked out and not shown up to classes for weeks), but I don’t think any of them have won. I can see where a formal letter of censure would be sent to the student’s official address, but it would have to be addressed to the student him or herself, not the parents.

  33. #33 sparc
    February 11, 2008

    I found the serious mistakes in the paper during the process of edits, which I confused between the early drafts and the latest versions

    I really don’t understand what he is on about. Did he skip the “mighty creator” in the final version? Did he use another title for the final version? Did he rewrite the copied passages? Even if this final version exists the question remains how somebody who sees himself as a scientist can come up with a draft like that one.

  34. #34 Stephen
    February 11, 2008

    On another note, how strange for the author to apologize to PZ for causing him trouble.

    I’m fairly sure that’s just an aspect of oriental culture, and I wouldn’t attach any weight to it.

    But for the rest, I see a complete failure to actually address any of the main issues. Lack of English writing ability doesn’t explain it. He doesn’t even try. With two days of hard work I’m damn sure I could do a better job of addressing them in Spanish, and I’ve never written any Spanish in my life. It would be horribly ungrammatical, but it would at least have most of the necessary nouns and verbs in there somewhere.

    This implies to me one of two things:
    - either he knows he has been caught and is hoping that a bit of weaseling will rescue his career;
    - or he’s so clueless that he had no hope of a career anyway.

    That’s unusually harsh for me, but I think it’s fair nonetheless.

    And the peer-review mystery remains …

  35. #35 John H. McDonald
    February 11, 2008

    Bob at #11,

    The problem with automating plagiarism detection by breaking up a document into phrases, then automating Google searches for those phrases, is that Google really, really doesn’t want Google searches done by scripts (they want humans to look at the ads, after all), and they have the programmer brainpower to prevent it. If they wanted to develop GoogleCopyCheck, it would take them about one afternoon.

    KevinC at #20,

    I don’t know why my university notifies the parents when a student is found guilty of academic dishonesty. There are very strict policies that professors and administrators can’t discuss a student’s grades, etc., with the parents without the written permission of the student (it’s a violation of a federal law known as FERPA), but then when there’s academic dishonesty, a letter goes to the parents. I don’t know why that’s legal, and it’s not a policy I agree with.

  36. #36 windy
    February 11, 2008

    He’s the coauthor (if the word “author” even applies) and from the looks of it, he had no clue what was in that paper: “I will study science….” Hah. I suspect Warda for concocting this thing and taking Han along for the ride.

    If Warda wrote everything *and* listed him as the corresponding author without his knowledge, why wouldn’t he reply “oh fuck, I had no idea”, or whatever the equivalent is in Korean?

  37. #37 John Pieret
    February 11, 2008

    Has anyone checked to see if “mighty creator” is some sort of idiom in Korean that only seems to be religious when translated literally? (Not that it would explain the rest of the problems.)

  38. #38 Drunkensci
    February 11, 2008

    Just to reiterate a few things, the fault here lies firmly on the side of Proteomics. I sent an email to the editor in chief and he replied with a stock response. I suggested that they reveal exactly how such a paper would reach the point of publication in order to prevent such a thing from happening again at another journal, and he said he and the board would take my suggestion under consideration (I think he only responded because I work in a good proteomics lab and told him that I – and by implication the rest of my lab – would no longer be reading the journal).

    Another thought is why were these people asked to write a review on this topic. Usually the editors request reviews from people. No one has ever heard of them, and yet they were asked to write a review for a journal in a field that is different from theirs? They are clearly not in the proteomics field. I’d also like to know why they were asked to write it in the first place.

    DS

  39. #39 Randy
    February 11, 2008

    I’m wondering if we might be seeing the first stealth paper submission. It may be possible to submit papers with reasonable discussions for peer review, then switch to the IDiotic version when submitting the final draft that supposedly has dealt with the reviewers’ comments. If the editor is not on his/her toes that might work for a short period.

  40. #40 Karey
    February 11, 2008

    Its weak and doesn’t explain all of the things wrong with the paper of course, but I can see how bad translations of early drafts can lead to a problem like this. In my experience, Japanese in particular when you translate some correspondence word for word has all sorts of long flowery metaphors in its phrasing left over, and it just doesn’t make a lot of sense because of the colloquialism factor of how they’re used in the language. It takes extensive work to translate the meanings as well as just words.

  41. #41 windy
    February 11, 2008

    Has anyone checked to see if “mighty creator” is some sort of idiom in Korean that only seems to be religious when translated literally?

    You guys are being so understanding of the plight of non-Anglo authors, it’s giving me all sorts of ideas for my next paper. “Dear Editor; I have no idea what you mean by ‘crude ethnic slur against Swedes’, it must be a problem caused by a literal translation from a Finnish idiom…”

  42. #42 kid bitzer
    February 11, 2008

    one scenario on which our korean friend would feel suitably embarrassed, but not feel the need to fess up to the IDiotry:

    the “mighty creator” line was already in some piece that he (han) plagiarized uncritically, perhaps without even noticing that it puts forward an ID line.

    re-read the “mighty creator” paragraph, and you may notice that, at least so far as prose goes, it is fairly competent. one explanation could be that neither han nor warda wrote it.

    i realize this is far-fetched (that they happened to plagiarize a piece that slipped in some creationist nonsense.) but we know they plagiarized quite a lot. and there is no reason why they should have restricted their plagiarizing to articles published in peer-reviewed journals.

    so, here’s another possible line of research: are there any creationist/ID’ers out there who like the phrase “fingerprints of a mighty creator” or the like? are there any creationists who are already fixated on mitochondria, and might have written this sort of thing, perhaps circulating it without publishing it?

    it would be very sad if han were simply a run-of-the-mill plagiarist who happened to plagiarize something with creationist nonsense. okay, maybe not that sad–maybe even a little comical in a way. but a bit unfortunate, if true, to get busted for creationism when all you intended was a little innocent intellectual-property theft.

    i mean, i know that in my own case, at least, i would much rather be found guilty of intellectual property theft than of creationism.

    anyhow–since there are so many mysteries here, i just thought i’d toss out this hypothesis.

  43. #43 raven
    February 11, 2008

    The editor Dunn has got some explaining to do. Three possibilities:

    1. Dunn and/or the reviewers are creos pushing their agenda.

    2. Dunn and/or the reviewers are asleep at the wheel and acceptance of papers for Proteomics is a random walk.

    3. The authors managed to game the system somehow, maybe adding nonsense at the prepublication proofreading.

    Option 3 is unlikely, option 2 possible, option 1 most ominous. Watergate wasn’t an accident, why should this be any different? Who knew and when did they know?

  44. #44 Jay Clayton
    February 11, 2008

    OK, I hesitated to do this, but Jin just sent out another form email to me (I also received the first one), reacting to my informing him I was informing other journals of the charges of plagiarism against him.

    Here it is (sorry for no clever formatting)

    Dear Sir,

    Thank you very much for everything!
    I hope that I keep in touch with you regarding to Science.
    Can I communicate with you from now?

    With best regards,

    Jin

  45. #45 Ray
    February 11, 2008

    #43 : “Thank you very much for everything!
    I hope that I keep in touch with you regarding to Science.
    Can I communicate with you from now?”

    Anyone else read that and think of GLaDOS?

  46. #46 Owlmirror
    February 11, 2008

    Anyone else read that and think of GLaDOS?

    I’m making a note here:
    EPIC FAIL

  47. #47 Attila Csordas
    February 11, 2008

    Ray: If the paper and the correspondence is a product of a clever AI level code, well then we have the first functional ID believer AI fake scientist that can pass the Peer Review Turing Test, but not the science blogoshpere. :)

  48. #48 sparc
    February 11, 2008

    I was surprised tha DO’L at UD missed the paper. Luckily, one can always count on Sal Cordova. Over at young cosmos celebrated this paper on February 8th:

    Creationist paper passes peer-review, Darwinist Endosymbiotic theory trashed

    Obviously this is not enough, later he writes:

    I foresaw this event.

  49. #49 J
    February 11, 2008

    I don’t buy the explanation either. If I were to write a review in Spanish, you can bet I wouldn’t start by preparing a draft made up of entire paragraphs lifted from other papers. I would have a native speaker review the grammar and vocabulary, but I would certainly know what I was talking about. Scholarship should not be lost in the translation. The statement of retraction in Proteomics should clearly describe what went wrong, and credit the authors of the various sources that were copied without citation.

  50. #50 Owlmirror
    February 11, 2008

    I noticed that “Creationist” has the same syllable count as “Aperture”, and this kinda just fell out from there:

    Darwinist liars!
    I’m making a note here:
    EPIC FAIL
    It’s hard to overstate my irritation

    Creationist Science:
    We say that you can’t
    because we can
    For the good of all of us
    So God won’t send us to Hell

    But there’s no sense crying over every mistake
    You just keep on trying ’til the Darwinists break
    And the science that’s done
    looks like a lot of fun
    Until you actually check the facts

  51. #51 Wes
    February 11, 2008

    Has anyone else noticed that over at PIMM several comments with suspiciously bad English have been defending the paper and accusing those criticizing it of “propaganda” and bad “tone”?

    # hewjoo Says:
    January 30, 2008 at 4:30 pm

    I like this review.
    # Klaus Says:
    February 1, 2008 at 6:38 pm

    Great Job
    It is the first article I read that describes applied science and connects it with origin of life of mitochondria.
    From such work we know how we can protect ourselves from aging by reducing calories.
    I like it so much the similarity between ischemia/reperfusion and immune response
    Thanks for allowing the access of such excellent article
    Klaus
    # Andreas Geisser Says:
    February 5, 2008 at 6:25 pm

    Well,
    Regardless to language, the authors have strong scientific basics. If any tried to touch the reality of evolution, he will then be dammed!!!
    Authors are more realistic than tones of those claim doing science, however they playing around science–fiction.

    http://pimm.wordpress.com/2008/01/29/can-you-tell-a-good-article-from-a-bad-article-based-on-the-abstract-and-the-title/#comment-53027

  52. #52 Wes
    February 11, 2008

    Continuing from above:

    # am Says:
    February 9, 2008 at 11:27 pm

    I am very surprised by the fierce tone of letter and responses. I have not yet had time to read the paper, but I have know both Dr Warda and Jin for some years. They are of the most upright and honest behavior. It would have been much more reasonable of you to pass on the remarks for their comments without making such propaganda. I really think you should hold it on until this matter can be resolved peacefully. It seems that you did forget that the article had been reviewed. If the article contains several errors, misunderstanding, etc that should have spotted and questioned by the referees. If not, the right way is to send a letter to the editor (that contains the question) who in turn forwards it to the authors for response (what we call corrigendum or erratum).
    # am Says:
    February 9, 2008 at 11:53 pm

    Accusations,

    It would better to scientifically commented on the article rather than accusations with plagiarism. What is the problem if the authors gave their own opinion at the end of their review as a future prospective, which might be correct or incorrect. Through research and technology, we can reach to the fact about hypothesis (for instant, cancer stem cell)

    http://pimm.wordpress.com/2008/02/07/the-warda-han-proteomics-scandal-fingerprints-of-plagiarism-too/#comments

  53. #53 Barb
    February 11, 2008

    I don’t see anything inherently wrong with notifying the parents of a student caught plagiarizing. If our goal is to discourage future acts of plagiarism, telling at student’s parents is probably pretty darn effective and less harsh than suspension or expulsion.

    Students’ marks are rightly confidential, but lawbreaking should not be. Intellectual honesty is a basic “law” of any university. I don’t have any right to confidentiality if I have been found guilty of a crime. We don’t keep cases of doping in sports secret. We consider any embarrassment that a guilty suffers to be a desirable contribution to general and specific deterrence. Furthermore, the public and victims or potential victims in particular are entitled to know that appropriate measures have been taken against the rulebreaker.

    So I wouldn’t bother informing the parents directly; I would simply publish names, offenses, and punishments of those found guilty. Plagiarizing students are probably more amenable to reform by shaming than many criminals. Let them experience the disapproval they have earned from their peers, their professors, and their families. What reason is there to treat academic theft differently than other harmful acts?

  54. #54 mu
    February 11, 2008

    One thing in regards to the non-native English speaker – I’ve seen noted scientists give lectures in English, not realizing that their whole talk was off by a slide or two, since they were simply phonetically reading their talk. Someone might be relying heavily on a in-house (aka grad student) translating services, and not realizing what is happening to their paper (or that half the paper was borrowed).

  55. #55 Tulse
    February 11, 2008

    Someone might be relying heavily on a in-house (aka grad student) translating services, and not realizing what is happening to their paper (or that half the paper was borrowed).

    I don’t see how the process of translation of an original manuscript would introduce plagiarized sections not in the original draft.

    All this is really smells bad to me. I just can’t see any plausible explanation that doesn’t make the original authors culpable of plagiarism and bad science. And that is completely disregarding the appalling lack of checks and balances in the journal’s editorial process. (PZ is right, of course, that this is the real issue — there are plenty of nutbars around who might submit lousy, crazy. plagiarized papers, but the journal should catch them before they get anywhere near publication.)

  56. #56 noncarborundum
    February 11, 2008

    I noticed that “Creationist” has the same syllable count as “Aperture”

    WTF?

  57. #57 Eric Saveau
    February 11, 2008

    owlmirror, you rule! Let me chime in:

    Darwinist liars!
    I’m making a note here:
    EPIC FAIL
    It’s hard to overstate my irritation

    Creationist Science:
    We say that you can’t
    because we can
    For the good of all of us
    So God won’t send us to Hell

    But there’s no sense crying over every mistake
    You just keep on trying ’til the Darwinists break
    And the science that’s done
    looks like a lot of fun
    Until you actually check the facts

    I’m not even honest
    I’m being insincere right now
    I claim Darwinism leads to Nazis
    and racists and death camps for the Jews
    afterwards I smile because
    I have such hatred for truth

    Misrepresenting data
    makes for beautiful lies
    ’cause there is no greater
    way of shielding our eyes
    from the damage we’ve done
    and the victories we’ve won
    over people who do
    check the facts

  58. #58 Owlmirror
    February 11, 2008

    WTF?

    Portal. It’s the new hotness.

    http://youtube.com/watch?v=RthZgszykLs

  59. #59 Eric Saveau
    February 11, 2008

    Oops. Sorry about the truncated italics! First three stanzas – Owlmirror. Next two – me.

  60. #60 Eric Saveau
    February 11, 2008

    Urgh. Reading that over again, I see I missed a line of my one. Reposting with corrected italics and the missing line, with another shout to Owlmirror who is awesome.

    Darwinist liars!
    I’m making a note here:
    EPIC FAIL
    It’s hard to overstate my irritation

    Creationist Science:
    We say that you can’t
    because we can
    For the good of all of us
    So God won’t send us to Hell

    But there’s no sense crying over every mistake
    You just keep on trying ’til the Darwinists break
    And the science that’s done
    looks like a lot of fun
    Until you actually check the facts

    I’m not even honest
    I’m being insincere right now
    I claim Darwinism leads to Nazis
    abortion and Commies
    and racists and death camps for the Jews
    afterwards I smile because
    I have such hatred for truth

    Misrepresenting data
    makes for beautiful lies
    ’cause there is no greater
    way of shielding our eyes
    from the damage we’ve done
    and the victories we’ve won
    over people who do
    check the facts

  61. The italics are still wrong. We apologize. Those responsible for the previous italics have been sacked.

  62. #62 mothra
    February 11, 2008

    A number of years ago, a foreign student in our department plagiarized a term paper. The instructor of the scientific writing course(!!) was my adviser. He, being a kind hearted soul, gave the student a second chance after carefully explaining the implications of this type of misdeed. The student excused his error on cultural differences in writing between his native university and ‘here in America.’ The student turned in a second plagiarized paper and was expelled from the University.

  63. #63 noncarborundum
    February 11, 2008

    Thanks for the link, Owlmirror, but I was mostly reacting to your statement that “Creationist” and “Aperture” have the same syllable count. They don’t, you know.

  64. #64 Eric Saveau
    February 11, 2008

    Thanks for the link, Owlmirror, but I was mostly reacting to your statement that “Creationist” and “Aperture” have the same syllable count.

    If it was “Creation” rather than “Creationist” it would fit the number of syllables – and still work exactly the same way.

    Owlmirror? Your turn. Finish this song!

  65. #65 windy
    February 11, 2008

    I don’t see how the process of translation of an original manuscript would introduce plagiarized sections not in the original draft.

    Front-loading!!

  66. #66 Owlmirror
    February 11, 2008

    I was mostly reacting to your statement that “Creationist” and “Aperture” have the same syllable count. They don’t, you know.

    Why did I think they did…?

    Oh, I think I was slurring the pronunciation a bit: “Cray-shun-ist”.

    Isn’t there a technical term for that? Yes, it was an elision.

    I claim artistic license!

    I will ponder extending the lyrics further. GLaDOS is a perfect voice for a Creationist, because she is, to use another technical term, bonkers.

  67. #67 noncarborundum
    February 11, 2008

    Dear Mr. R. W. Llama:

    Speaking purely as a pedant, I must point out that although “Creation” and “Aperture” have the same number of syllables, is not strictly true that “If it was [sic: were] ‘Creation’ . . . it would . . . still work exactly the same way.” If you replace “aperture science” with “creation science” in the referenced song, you will end up stressing “creation” on the first syllable.

    Prosodically, it’s better just to stick with “creationist”, stress it on the “-a-”, and live with the extra syllable.

    P.S. Or, as Owlmirror suggests, sing it “Cray-shun-ist”, but as I pedant I strongly disdain such a suggestion.

  68. #68 noncarborundum
    February 11, 2008

    P.P.S. Harrumph.

  69. #69 improvius
    February 11, 2008

    Both “Creationist” and “Aperture” will maintain the same overall meter even though they have a different number of syllables. The only difference, poetically, is that “Creationist” is iambic, whereas “Aperture” is trochaic. Substituting one for the other is perfectly acceptable in this case.

  70. #70 Eric Saveau
    February 11, 2008

    Owlmirror, I couldn’t wait.

    If this seems presumptuous, me jumping in on something you started, I can only apologize and plead that you started something so cool that I couldn’t help being swept away by my enthusiasm. If you’ve already posted a finish while I was typing this, or if you would simply prefer to disregard it in favor of whatever you’ve already got percolating in your mind, please proceed.

    In the meantime, I offer my humble finish to “Check The Facts”, with apologies to bioh you and the inestimable Jonathon Coulton -

    Go on, “Expell” me
    I think I prefer being on the wrong side
    Maybe truth will be enough to save you
    Or maybe I’ll join you
    (That was a joke. Ha ha. Fat chance.)
    FtK, DaveScot, and I
    will offer not-pologies.

    Look at me, quote-mining
    when there’s censoring to do.
    We’ll delete your comments,
    we don’t need peer review.
    We are seething in our rage,
    there is warfare to be waged
    upon people who do
    check the facts.

    You should believe me, but don’t
    check the facts.

    Attacking science ’cause you
    check the facts

    We’ll always hate you ’cause you
    check the facts

    We’re always lying while you
    check the facts

    We haven’t won yet ’cause you
    check the facts

    Check the facts!
    check the facts

  71. #71 OsakaGuy
    February 11, 2008

    When I was teaching English in Japan some of my students were university professors. I sometimes helped them correct the English in their papers. (Look I used the right “their”! Don’t get on my case if you find some other error. I will blame my fingers.) I could easily imagine some creationist proof reader slipping on something like that. Look what happened to Josephus!

  72. #72 Eric Saveau
    February 11, 2008

    P.P.S. Harrumph.
    :-D

  73. #73 P-momma
    February 11, 2008

    Yeah, I’m not buying the “we submitted the wrong draft” excuse.
    1. I’ve written quite a few peer reviewed journal articles and there’s little likelihood of confusing your rough draft with your final draft.
    2. If his first draft was *that* bad, then he needs to find a new area of expertise.
    3. I’ve reviewed articles (given, not on this topic) and find it frightening that this garbage, especially with the plagerism issues, made it through. Holy crap! If nothing else, the journal needs to write up some apology to the authors of the copied materials. Do they not have that handy-dandy software wherein you scan in a document and search it for plagerism?

    I almost wonder if these people wrote the article for a very specific audience (with limited education or unfamiliar with biological concepts). Like, maybe they wrote it for a creationist group talk and someone in the group said, “Hey! You should publish that.” It strikes me as a hack job that someone might create knowing the intended audience won’t have the time or brains to fact check.

    Crazy.

  74. #74 Eric Saveau
    February 11, 2008

    It occurs to me that the line “FtK, DaveScot, and I”, while fitting the rhythm of the original line in the Jonathon Coulton’s song, is possibly wrong for two reasons – even not-pologies are more than they are known for offering, and there are bigger IDiot fish to put there. I therefore offer the replacement line “Luskin, Behe, and Dembski” as being more appropriate while still fitting the intended meter.

  75. #75 October Mermaid
    February 11, 2008

    I really can’t say much about this, since all I know about mitochondria I learned from the Japanese story, Parasite Eve.

    I live in constant fear of the day the mitochondria get fed up and rise in rebellion against nuclear tyrrany.

  76. #76 Emmet Caulfield
    February 11, 2008

    I think this is a pretty good outcome for both the editors and the authors, probably “negotiated” at gunpoint: “Withdraw the article or we’ll fry your ass!” The upsides are that the journal and the authors each get to spin it as a “mistake” in their own way, the fundies don’t get to cry “censorship”, and both parties get off pretty lightly. The only downside is a relatively small serving of humble pie for both parties. It could’ve been much worse.

    @#11

    The best way to detect plagiarism is by picking out suspiciously well-written phrases and Googling them, and that’ pretty tedious.

    Shouldn’t that be relatively easy to automate?

    Bob, it is indeed easy to automate. Some years ago, I wrote a Perl script to “textify” assignments (submitted as PDFs) and use the Google API to do exact searches of randomly extracted runs of text. A few tests shows that even runs of 5 or 6 words are “surprisingly unique”, and it’s pretty easy to expand the length of a run of text to tag reports that contain long runs of text copy’n’pasted from online articles. The rules for the Google API at the time were pretty generous, allowing several thousand searches per developer account per day; a few days allowance is enough to comprehensively scan 50 or so documents (starting with, say, 100 5 or 6 word runs per document).

    I can’t find the script now (it was pretty crufty), but it wasn’t hard to write.

  77. #77 Glen Davidson
    February 11, 2008

    I live in constant fear of the day the mitochondria get fed up and rise in rebellion against nuclear tyrrany.

    Down with nuclear power!

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/2kxyc7

  78. #78 mothra
    February 11, 2008

    More than 70 comments on plagiarism and no one has yet mentioned the great Lobachevsky? Here are the lyrics as posted on: http://www.lyricsmode.com/lyrics/t/tom_lehrer/lobachevsky.html
    THANK YOU TOM LEHRER for brightening even the most dismal days!

    Who made me the genius I am today,
    The mathematician that others all quote,
    Who’s the professor that made me that way?
    The greatest that ever got chalk on his coat.

    One man deserves the credit,
    One man deserves the blame,
    And nicolai ivanovich lobachevsky is his name.
    Hi!
    Nicolai ivanovich lobach-

    I am never forget the day I first meet the great lobachevsky.
    In one word he told me secret of success in mathematics:
    Plagiarize!

    Plagiarize,
    Let no one else’s work evade your eyes,
    Remember why the good lord made your eyes,
    So don’t shade your eyes,
    But plagiarize, plagiarize, plagiarize -
    Only be sure always to call it please ‘research’.

    And ever since I meet this man
    My life is not the same,
    And nicolai ivanovich lobachevsky is his name.
    Hi!
    Nicolai ivanovich lobach-

    I am never forget the day I am given first original paper
    To write. it was on analytic and algebraic topology of
    Locally euclidean parameterization of infinitely differentiable
    Riemannian manifold.
    Bozhe moi!
    This I know from nothing.
    But I think of great lobachevsky and get idea – ahah!

    I have a friend in minsk,
    Who has a friend in pinsk,
    Whose friend in omsk
    Has friend in tomsk
    With friend in akmolinsk.
    His friend in alexandrovsk
    Has friend in petropavlovsk,
    Whose friend somehow
    Is solving now
    The problem in dnepropetrovsk.

    And when his work is done -
    Ha ha! – begins the fun.
    From dnepropetrovsk
    To petropavlovsk,
    By way of iliysk,
    And novorossiysk,
    To alexandrovsk to akmolinsk
    To tomsk to omsk
    To pinsk to minsk
    To me the news will run,
    Yes, to me the news will run!

    And then I write
    By morning, night,
    And afternoon,
    And pretty soon
    My name in dnepropetrovsk is cursed,
    When he finds out I publish first!

    And who made me a big success
    And brought me wealth and fame?
    Nicolai ivanovich lobachevsky is his name.
    Hi!
    Nicolai ivanovich lobach -

    I am never forget the day my first book is published.
    Every chapter I stole from somewhere else.
    Index I copy from old vladivostok telephone directory.
    This book was sensational!
    Pravda – well, pravda – pravda said: (russian double-talk)
    It stinks.
    But izvestia! izvestia said: (russian double-talk)
    It stinks.
    Metro-goldwyn-moskva buys movie rights for six million rubles,
    Changing title to ‘the eternal triangle’,
    With brigitte bardot playing part of hypotenuse.

    And who deserves the credit?
    And who deserves the blame?
    Nicolai ivanovich lobachevsky is his name.
    Hi!

  79. #79 Jeff
    February 11, 2008

    You could say that Han “created” the paper, but he had to borrow some of the ingredients. If it’s happened to him before, he can use the “Oops, I did it again” excuse.

  80. #80 Joe Mc Faul
    February 11, 2008

    The lawyer in me wonders if this isn’t a SOKAL/p’wn episode.

    That email looks a lot like Dembski’s writing.

  81. #81 Joe Mc Faul
    February 11, 2008

    The lawyer in me wonders if this isn’t a SOKAL/p’wn episode.

    That email looks a lot like Dembski’s writing.

  82. #82 Owlmirror
    February 11, 2008

    More than 70 comments on plagiarism and no one has yet mentioned the great Lobachevsky?

    Harrumph.

    Remember why the good lord made your eyes,

    Note biological teleology!

  83. #83 Owlmirror
    February 11, 2008

    A tentative extension to the lyrics. I still need the middle section, but again, this part naturally suggested itself first.

    Note: Creationist!GLaDOS is obviously a Calvinist.

    Go ahead and hate God
    I think I’d prefer for you to burn
    Maybe you’ll find someone else to help you
    Maybe Charles Darwin
    THAT WAS A JOKE. HAHA. FAT CHANCE.
    Anyway this fake is great
    So delicious a fraud

    Look at me still talking when there’s science to do
    When I read The Book it makes me glad I’m not you
    Your experiments can’t run
    There is research to be done
    But you’re not allowed to check the facts

  84. #84 Bride of Shrek
    February 11, 2008

    Mothra @ #77

    Nah, Owlmirror chucked it in at post # 237 on the original story about these very naughty boys.

  85. #85 raven
    February 11, 2008

    Various posters have come up with some ad hoc explanations of how this “accident” could occur. The English language coach, the dog, they plagiarized the wrong papers, the computer generating the paper met a missionary and converted, and so on.

    There is a worst case. Maybe the authors, editor, and reviewers all colluded in one way or another to sneak a garbage creationist paper into Proteomics. With help from the DI. These are all intelligent people, at least enough to get an advanced scientific degree.

    It wouldn’t be hard, the editor picks the reviewers.

    The more I think about it, the more the worst case also looks like the most likely case. We should know in the fullness of time. Maybe, depends on how good they are at stonewalling, beating around the bush, and making excuses.

  86. #86 J
    February 11, 2008

    Raven (#83),

    The thing that makes me question that scenario is, why use a Trojan horse with so many holes, so to speak? I’ve never seen such a blatant case of multiple plagiarisms in one paper. The blogosphere found it in record time – the same day the Harvard Crimson reports it, Han agrees to withdraw it. It’s true that the use of a literature review instead of a research paper fits the DI’s MO, but they want to trumpet a success, not an embarrassing case of scientific misconduct. I suspect it was someone on Han’s end slipping in some claptrap, and Proteomics EIC Prof. Dunn didn’t take the time to properly review the submission.

    What is particularly important is the published retraction statement that will appear in Proteomics. There must be a clear explanation accompanied by a list of sources that were plagiarized without citation.

  87. #87 Owlmirror
    February 11, 2008

    I think I have my middle part now:

    I’m not even crazy.
    I’m being so sincere right now.
    Even though you broke my work.
    And killed it.
    And tore it to pieces.
    And said every piece was just made up.
    Your facts burn and hurt because
    God’s mad but Jesus loves you!
    Now these points of data
    make a beautiful line.
    And they’re from the Bible.
    We’re revealing on time.
    So we know they’re all true
    And I’ll be glad to show you
    Just so long as you don’t
    check the facts.

  88. #88 Escuerd
    February 11, 2008

    @ #44,
    I’m GLaD I’m not the only one who thought that.

    Awesome jobs, Eric Saveau and Owlmirror.

    I’m late to the game, but it would have been nice to fit “mighty creator” in there somewhere, and maybe “Amateur Science”. They have the right meter for some places they might be appropriately used.

  89. #89 Owlmirror
    February 11, 2008

    And the coda (I suppose in order for it to be consistent, the final line(s) needs to be a querulous, incredulous question — you want me to what?):

    And believe me you can’t
    check the facts.
    I’m doing Science but not
    checking facts.
    My REVELATION needs no
    checking facts.

    If I’m lying you can’t
    check the facts.

    And in my head there is no
    checking facts.

    CHECK THE FACTS?
    CHECK THE FACTS?

  90. #90 Monado
    February 11, 2008

    I found “fingerprints” +”mighty creator” at Bible Universe in the section “Is Chance Precise and Predictable?” end of the third paragraph (near the bottom of the bald eagle picture):

    “From the microscopic to the immense, we can discover the fingerprints of the mighty Creator who brought all things into existence.”

    That’s the only instance on the page.

    The same sentence is repeated in a called “Amazing Wonders of Creation.” And it seems to be a common metaphor: September 1997 Sermons:

    “Paul argues in Romans 1.18-23 that God has left his fingerprints all over creation”

  91. #91 Monado
    February 11, 2008

    Aaargh! My second two links are fribbled, but they should work if you remove the Scienceblogs address from them.

    Try again: Amazing Universe by Joe Crews and Biblical quote.

    There’s also something in WHY EVOLUTION IS WRONG, a free pamphlet on Free Republic: “… it’s very subtle, not leaving fingerprints, so that we may CHOOSE with ….. but we don’t recognize the work of an All Mighty Creator, simply because we …”

  92. #92 Monado
    February 11, 2008

    …corrections are held up in moderations…

  93. #93 Owlmirror
    February 11, 2008

    And we bring it all together, with a few tweaks in the text:

    Parody by Owlmirror

    Acknowledgments:

    Original lyrics by Jonathan Coulton
    Original vocals by Ellen McLain
    Original sound engineering by Valve Software
    Original copyright owned by Valve Software

    Open forum of Pharyngula by PZ Myers and SEED magazine/Scienceblogs
    Inspiration by Ray
    Additional encouragement (and alternate lyrics) by Eric Saveau
    Pedantry by noncarborundum and improvius
    Jonathan Coulton is a better lyricist than I will ever be.

    (NB: Creationist!GLaDOS is obviously a hard-core Calvinist.
    NB: The final lines are meant to be incredulous questions.)


    ___________________

    Darwinist liars!
    I’m making a note here:
    EPIC FAIL
    It’s hard to overstate
    my irritation

    Creationist Science:
    We say that you can’t
    because we can
    For the good of all of us
    So God won’t send us to Hell

    But there’s no sense crying
    over every mistake
    You just keep on trying
    ’til the Darwinists break
    And the science that’s done
    looks like a lot of fun
    Until you actually
    check the facts.

    I’m not even crazy.
    I’m being so sincere right now.
    Even though you broke my work.
    And killed it.
    And tore it to pieces.
    And said every piece was just made up.
    Your facts burn and hurt because
    God’s mad but Jesus loves you!

    Now these points of data
    make a beautiful line.
    And they’re from the Bible.
    We’re revealing on time.
    So we know they’re all true
    And I’ll be glad to show you
    Just so long as you don’t
    check the facts.

    Go ahead and leave God
    I think I’d prefer for you to burn
    Maybe you’ll find someone else
    to help you
    Maybe Charles Darwin
    THAT WAS A JOKE. HAHA. FAT CHANCE.
    Anyway this fake is great
    It’s so delicious a fraud

    Look at me still talking
    when there’s science to do
    When I read The Book
    it makes me glad I’m not you
    Your experiments can’t run
    There is research to be done
    But you’re not allowed to
    check the facts

    And believe me you can’t
    check the facts.
    I’m doing Science but not
    checking facts.
    My REVELATION needs no
    checking facts.

    If I’m lying you can’t
    check the facts.

    And in my head there is no
    checking facts.

    CHECK THE FACTS?
    CHECK THE FACTS?

  94. #94 Monado
    February 11, 2008

    Owlmirror: Delicious!

  95. #95 Randy Owens
    February 11, 2008

    OK, I haven’t read the whole thread yet, but will be doing so ASAP, but if it hasn’t been brought up already, I might look at the possibility that the word “soul” might have been injected by its relation to “respiration”. As I recall, there’s supposed to be some connection between this alleged “soul” and breathing, and the Latin word for “breath” gives us the root for such words as “inspiration”, “respiration”, and “perspiration”. Could a really bad translation of some Korean jargon have resulted in “soul” where “respiration” was meant?

    It still wouldn’t excuse the rest of it, or the reviewers and editor(s), of course. But I might like to try to imagine how “mighty creator” might have come about innocuously.

  96. #96 Eric Saveau
    February 11, 2008

    And we bring it all together, with a few tweaks in the text

    Bravo, Owlmirror! I love it!

    How soon will you have a recording for us to download? :-)

  97. #97 Hank Roberts
    February 11, 2008

    > Google Copy Check

    Oh, Lordy, the spam filters on blogs are bad enough now.
    Can you imagine

    “I’m sorry, Dave, you have used no new sentences and only three new phrases in your attempted posting. Would you prefer to pay the registration fees to the copyright holders, or attempt another draft?”

    Followed by a list of sentences and sentence fragments and who posted them first and holds copyright, and whether or not they’ve published licensing terms for reuse.

    Fair use? Oh, that went out when Congress noticed they were receiving more from the RIAA than from all their other donors combined …

  98. #98 kevin
    February 11, 2008

    Hey PZ: Why not try having a conversation with this guy over email?

    Specifically, I want to hear what he has to say about the “mighty creator” lines. There are a few theories floating around, and all seem plausible (though not equally likely):

    (a) Han is a not-too-subtle creationist who by chance got his nonsense through peer review.

    (b) Han is a slightly-sneaky creationist who inserted those lines after peer review and didn’t get caught immediately.

    (c) Han is hopelessly bad at english, and accidentally and carelessly translated those lines from something not quite so outrageously creationist, and so represent mainly a complete misunderstanding.

    (d) Han is hopelessly bad at english, and asked for help with translation from a creationist friend.

    The plagiarism side is a little less interesting, because it is hard to believe that it wasn’t deliberate (as well as sloppy, obvious, and incompetent). But as pointed out, it could also have been just incredibly bad english combined with incredibly incompetence and a careless and sloppy effort at composing a draft, with little real intent to deliberately deceive. Which, of course, is only one small step better than malicious, deceitful, deliberate plagiarism, if only because it is easier to feel sorry for someone that is incompetent.

    -Kevin

  99. #99 Miles
    February 12, 2008

    You might also engage him in email and point him in the direction of some good research. Take the opportunity to educate him. See if he has any interest.

  100. #100 Bobby
    February 12, 2008

    The most economical explanation: goddidit.

    Between the last time the editors saw it and the time it hit the press. Or heck, maybe even after it hit the press.

    At any rate, He had the means, the motive, and the opportunity. Wouldn’t that suffice as circumstantial evidence in a court of law?

    I’ll bet that all those evolution deniers who continually whinge about scientists excluding supernatural explanations will find this hypothesis perfect!

  101. #101 Stephen
    February 12, 2008

    @#97: I think Han’s reply eliminates your options (c) and (d). If the the problem was anything to do with translation there is no reason why he could not have just said so.

  102. #102 Lilly de Lure
    February 12, 2008

    J said:

    The thing that makes me question that scenario is, why use a Trojan horse with so many holes, so to speak? I’ve never seen such a blatant case of multiple plagiarisms in one paper. The blogosphere found it in record time – the same day the Harvard Crimson reports it, Han agrees to withdraw it. It’s true that the use of a literature review instead of a research paper fits the DI’s MO, but they want to trumpet a success, not an embarrassing case of scientific misconduct.

    To be fair though if they are trying to write an IDiot paper what options do they have – scientific papers are generally about new facts that have come to light via research. The DI and other IDiot organisations don’t do scientific research and have no new facts to present so what can they do when it comes to writing an actual paper other than plagiarise, slip in a few ID phrases and hope? This may be a particularly crude attempt to do just this but I don’t think it’s the last (especially if they can trumpet every failure to get something past Peer Review as an example of academic censorship), we just need to keep a close eye on things to check that more rogue papers like this one don’t get through (keeping a very close eye on Proteomics while we’re at it may not be such a bad idea either after this near-catastrophic failure of Peer Review).

  103. #103 Moggie
    February 12, 2008

    Delicious, moist cake to Owlmirror. I’m sure everyone enjoyed that song, except the ones who are dead.

  104. #104 Jeremy
    February 12, 2008

    I have to throw in my 2 cents for people going at these guys. #29 has one of the most likely possibilites. As an english teacher in Japan for 4 years, and a teacher of Koreans for the year before that, it is quite possible that it’s a mucked up translation.

    I’ve been asked before to proofread technical papers, in the medical field, no less, that I have absolutely no qualifications for besides being a native English speaker. It’s entirely possible this guy asked someone for help, and whoever it was gave them a translation. There doesn’t even have to be malice there, the person could’ve been trying to give as exact a translation as they could. Where I am in Japan, Mormons are fairly active and offer English lessons as a hook to get people to come to their temple. Korea has a large Christian population, and it’s entirely likely free EFl lessons are offered at churches.

    PZ, if you read this far down on comments, try contacting the guy and asking about his English level and how he got help with the translation, if at all. That would be your first step in understanding how this got through the peer-review process.

  105. #105 Tulse
    February 12, 2008

    #29 has one of the most likely possibilites. As an english teacher in Japan for 4 years, and a teacher of Koreans for the year before that, it is quite possible that it’s a mucked up translation.

    If the paper was originally written in Korean and then translated, how on earth would a translator know to plagiarize specific passages in English from other papers word-for-word? I could understand a translator introducing infelicities of phrasing, and even introduction of certain ID-friendly terminology, but a translator working from an original document wouldn’t insert huge verbatim passages from multiple English articles. The translator explanation just won’t wash.

  106. #106 Virgil
    February 12, 2008

    My suspicion here is that Han is not an out-and-out creationist who sought to get ID into a peer-reviewed paper. Rather, he’s just one of those guys who feels there’s a spiritual nature to his work. I review for over 45 journals, and frequently come across ethereal phrases like this – all of them get removed in the review process. Just last week, a paper on a novel drug from sea sponges contained the phrase “The Ocean, which is the mother of origin of life…” Such language does not belong in any scientific paper (especially the capitalization of ocean).

    Regardless of ID vs. plagiarism as the reason for dismissing this work (I prefer the latter since it is more prosecutable in absolute terms), the following needs to occur soon:
    1) A formal letter of apology from the authors in the journal, which has been approved by all the authors of the plagiarized work, and which does not contain “I made a mistake with the drafts” types of argument.
    2) The EIC needs to resign and be replaced by someone who can restore credibility in the journal and its review process.
    3) The incoming EIC needs to state that the reviewers have been banned for life from reviewing for this journal, or removed from the editorial board (if they’re on it).
    If they don’t do all these things, the reputation of the journal will be destroyed, the creationists will claim a score, and the authors will get away Scot free.

  107. #107 sparc
    February 12, 2008

    If the paper was originally written in Korean and then translated, how on earth would a translator know to plagiarize specific passages in English from other papers word-for-word?

    Let’s not forget that there is another author beside Han: M. Warda from Egypt. I really wonder if which language they choose to communicate.

  108. #108 Gustaf Sjöblom
    February 12, 2008

    I couldn’t agree more. That the author himself wish to distance himself from this seems quite beside the point.

  109. #109 Gustaf Sjöblom
    February 12, 2008

    I couldn’t agree more. That the author himself wish to distance himself from this seems quite beside the point.

  110. #110 Bill Dauphin
    February 12, 2008
    #29 has one of the most likely possibilites….

    If the paper was originally written in Korean and then translated…

    Speaking as #29, let me just clarify that I was commenting on the language of the e-mail to PZ, not on the paper, which I haven’t read. I would assume that someone whose English is as limited as that e-mail indicates would not attempt to write a technical paper in English, but instead would write it in his native language and have it translated. That’s what I would assume, but I have no knowledge of what actually happened in this case.

    BTW, Jeremy is quite correct about the large Christian population in Korea. (And for what it’s worth, there’s a not inconsiderable population of Korean Christians right here in the U.S.) When I was there (in 1986), my students would brag to me that 10% of the population was Christian, and would claim that made Korea the most Christian nation in Asia. When I asked them about the Philippines, which is 80+% Roman Catholic, the reply was invariably, “Oh, no; we’re talking about Christians, not Catholics!” ;^)

  111. #111 Laura
    February 12, 2008

    This is such a bizarre and puzzling situation. I agree with previous posters that translation errors/misunderstandings are not the culprit here. Besides, as the authors of the paper, those two are ultimately responsible for the content of that publication. So when the abstract for the paper contains this sentence, “These data are presented with other novel proteomics evidence to disprove the endosymbiotic hypothesis of mitochondrial evolution that is replaced in this work by a more realistic alternative.”…they should have damn well known exactly what they were proposing. Saying that a sneaky or incompetent translator is at fault is not an acceptable explanation. Any scientist used to reading anything about the mitochondrion should be able to recognize the English words “disprove” and “endosymbiotic hypothesis” in the same sentence in their abstract. And for that matter, any reviewer should recognize that as a red flag, too. I have to admit that I could care less about the authors’ end of things. I’m more interested in how this got past review. What happened?

  112. #112 Febble
    February 12, 2008

    I simply don’t see how a translation problem could give rise to accidental plagiarism. Kooky creationist claims at a pinch, yes, but not wholesale borrowings from other people’s work – some of which isn’t even on the reference list.

    And the combination of the two makes it hard to believe that someone wasn’t attempting fraud.

  113. #113 Owlmirror
    February 12, 2008

    Escuerd @#87, Monado @#93, Eric Saveau @#95, Moggie @#102:

    Thank you all for your kind words.

    Addressing one specific comment from #87:

    it would have been nice to fit “mighty creator” in there somewhere, and maybe “Amateur Science”.

    While “Amateur Science” fits the meter, I utterly reject that “Creationist Science” is even “amateur”. Perfectly good science can be done by amateurs, like the young girl who did the science project on practitioners of therapeutic touch not doing better than chance in identifying where a human hand was, or people with backyard telescopes discovering comets and such. All of science starts out with dedicated amateurs making observations and sharing them; modern expertise is simply the accumulated observations of all of those many amateurs.

    “Creationist Science” is actually the utter antithesis of science.

    I didn’t think of a place to put “mighty creator”, but the comments about “fingerprints” sparked a modification of this section:

    Now these points of data
    look like God’s fingerprints.
    They’re out of the Bible,
    we’re revealing its hints.
    So we know they’re all true
    And we’ll be glad to show you
    Just so long as you don’t
    check the facts.

  114. #114 Jeremy
    February 13, 2008

    “If the paper was originally written in Korean and then translated, how on earth would a translator know to plagiarize specific passages in English from other papers word-for-word?”

    The same way I answered questions in my high school Spanish class: find the relevant passages, put some bits before it and copy away. It wouldn’t be a problem at all to write the paper in Korean, with plagiarized passages in appropriate places in English. Which would fit with the way some East Asian cultures handle paraphrasing: they don’t. My SLA class looked at Chinese tendencies to wholesale copy from other articles because who are they to alter an elder’s words. The elder must know more than they did, therefore they’re honoring them by copying their work. It puts plagiarism in a whole new light. Doesn’t make it right in the Western journal method, but there you go. (East Asians will probably want to kill me by now, lumping them all together, but some general tendencies are extractable)

    This was all hypothetical, however. Having looked at the sections PZ posted, the grammar seems pretty spot on, about as clear as one would expect from a dense scientific paper (based on my little understanding of biology terms), which puts all my prior assumptions into question. Also, the bit about the collaborator being from/in Egypt pretty much shreds my theory for the original paper.

    But the email PZ received still stands as an English screw-up. Cultural differences can create one heck of a misunderstanding.

  115. #115 Owlmirror
    February 13, 2008

    My SLA class looked at Chinese tendencies to wholesale copy from other articles because who are they to alter an elder’s words. The elder must know more than they did, therefore they’re honoring them by copying their work. It puts plagiarism in a whole new light.

    Harrumph. That looks like a case of bending over backwards to excuse bad behavior.

    Is it “honouring” their elders to copy their work and not reference who it was that originally wrote it?

    In the West, “honouring your elders” means that if you copy their words directly, you follow the basic citation standard of saying who the elder is. This so-called Chinese style certainly sounds much less respectful of their elders.

    In fact, I’d be interested in seeing comments from Chinese who have had their work directly copied this way without being mentioned; do they indeed say themselves that they feel “honoured”?

  116. #116 Peter Kang
    February 19, 2008

    Seems odd that there are no Koreans that have posted any comments yet. As a person who is fluent (at the ‘native’ level) in both Korean and English, there is no way that this is an error in Korean-English translation. Although this still leaves open the question whether it was inserted by the hypothetical translator. BTW, Korea is about 30% Christian, with a large core evangelical component. However, I find it difficult to believe that some ‘Christian’ would falsely insert these comments without the author’s permission. Most of the Korean Christians that I know, who take the Bible literally (and there are quite a few of these, even in science) are almost painfully honest.

    p.s. I have also heard Koreans make the distinction between ‘Christians’ and ‘Catholics’, although this is not a common viewpoint.

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