We thought this recent revelation about a flood of nonsense research papers having to be removed from databases would just quietly die (because anyone who mentions it is, see, “anti-science”).
Apparently, lots of us are anti-science. The story is trending; it showed up in a news aggregator today. At The Guardian, Ian Sample explains,
Like all the best hoaxes, there was a serious point to be made. Three MIT graduate students wanted to expose how dodgy scientific conferences pestered researchers for papers, and accepted any old rubbish sent in, knowing that academics would stump up the hefty, till-ringing registration fees.
But then our moral and intellectual superiors got hold of the technology:
But this is the hoax that keeps on giving. The creators of the automatic nonsense generator, Jeremy Stribling, Dan Aguayo and Maxwell Krohn, have made the SCIgen program free to download. And scientists have been using it in their droves. This week, Nature reported, French researcher Cyril Labbé revealed that 16 gobbledegook papers created by SCIgen had been used by German academic publisher Springer. More than 100 more fake SCIgen papers were published by the US Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE). Both organisations have now taken steps to remove the papers.
Of course, a program was created to spot the fakes. Now, a program will doubtless be created to hobble spotting the fakes using that program. And so it goes.
Despite the fact that information not matter underlies the universe, thinking appears just too old-fashioned now. 😉
See also: This is not a hoax: 120 computer-generated nonsense papers are being removed from science papers database
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