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Kim Kardashian’s paper one of Top Ten Science Retractions of 2018

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What’s hot? What’s not?/Niklas Bildhauer, Wikimedia

One can’t help thinking that in at least two cases, much more must be wrong than just individual misconduct:

5 For many years, Piero Anversa was one of the world’s leading figures in the field of cardiac stem cells. No longer. In 2018, his former institution, Harvard Medical School, requested that journals retract 31 papers from Anversa’s lab over concerns about the validity of the reported data. So far, 14 have been pulled. The retractions are just the latest—and doubtless not the last—development in the slow unraveling of Anversa’s work, a saga that began with questions nearly five years ago and has included a $10 million settlement between Harvard teaching hospitals and the US Department of Justice over allegations of fraud.

It feels, at first, like a tragic drama: How the mighty are fallen! Then, in the aftermath, one asks oneself, but didn’t anyone know? All too likely, yes, lots of people knew, but so many were complicit in one way or another that discussion was risky.

At least, that is the most likely explanation.

6 Kim Kardashian: Reality show star, internet meme machine, fame seeker and, now, published scientist? Kardashian’s name cropped up as first author of a 2018 paper in Drug Designing & Intellectual Properties International Journal (since removed) titled “Wanion: Refinement of Rpcs.” Her co-authors included the mysterious inventor of Bitcoin, Satoshi Nakamoto, and Tomáš Pluskal, now a postdoc at MIT. In fact, the article was a figment of Pluskal’s imagination, executed with the help of SciGen, the paper-writing algorithm created at MIT, to sting the journal. Editors there obliged nicely, accepting the hoax manuscript and requiring zero revisions. Retraction Watch, “Top Retractions of 2018” at The Scientist

Again, the fact that this sort of hoax works is not the hoaxers’ “fault.” See also Sokal hoaxes strike again.

Retraction Watch’s searchable database of retractions is here.

While we’re here: From Chemistry World: Forensic science is “in crisis” A study of the causes of science skepticism sails right by the most obvious cause of skepticism: Repeated untrustworthiness

and

Another Pop Science Great, The 100-Calorie Snack Guy, Fizzles On the Retraction list above at 10.

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