Monthly Archives: February 2013

Insanity from Tamil Nadu

This is probably one of the most bizarre cases of insane science. Sivasubramanian and Kalimuthu, both from Tamil Nadu, India, have published a number of truly exceptional papers. For instance, the 2009 paper published in “Nature and Science“(!) of Marsland Press, titled An easy experiment for dark matter. In it, the authors descibe the detection of dark matter in the form of dust particles being hit by a ray of sun light in an otherwise darkened room. The Discussion contains brain-squeezing sentences like “In our experiment, the pin pointed tiny particles might be clusters of dark matter [9 & 24]. If these particles are not clusters of dark matter, it must be either superstrings or gravitons“…. Of course – naturally!

The two references in the quote are URLs that doesn’t lead anywhere. In fact, all references in the paper are  URLs, most of them to popular science contents. Sivasubramanian is a faculty member of Dr. Mahalingam College of Technology and Engineering, which according to it’s website is affiliated to Anna University in Chennai.

In an other paper On Imaginary Numbers,  Sivasubramanian, Kalimuthu and Raghul Kumar attempts to prove that the imaginary number i is equal to –i. Their “result” stems from a simple miscalculation, which arises because the authors set 1 = √1 = i. However, this equally interesting relation goes without comment in the paper.

Of course, one must wonder if these papers constitute a deliberate hoax of the authors with the intent to highlight the miserable condition of the peer-review system and the apparent ease with which they can publish such obvious nonsense. However, the articles are crude, badly written and does in no way resemble the literary qualities or subtle humour of “Transgressing the boundaries” by Alan Sokal or other “proper hoaxes“.

ScienceInsanity will write a lot more about Sivasubramanian and Kalimuthu, as we have yet only scratched the surface. You can also read more here at Retraction Watch.

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The German politicians

The German minister of education, Annette Schavan, today announced that she resigns. An anonymous blogger, under the pseudonym Robert Schmidt, first published evidence that Schavan’s 1980 PhD-thesis, with the (unfortunate) title “Character and conscience” contained a large number of plagiarised paragraphs. Schavan is not the only German politician to be accused of doing insane science. The minister of defence Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg was forced to resign in 2011 under very similar circumstances. MEP Silvana Koch-Mehrin is a third case, and Jorgo Chatzimarkakis is a fourth. All four have been found to have plagiarised parts of their respective PhD-theses and by now they have all been stripped of their titles. The plagiarism was discovered by citizen journalism, bloggers, curious individuals and internet-coordinated crowds, NOT by the scientific community.

Germany stands out when it comes to scientific misconduct. According to this paper Germany is perhaps the most fraudulent research country, and in particular data falsification and fabrication seems to be more common in Germany that in other countries.

ScienceInsanity wonders about the responsibility of the universities that awarded the doctorates in the first place. What should universities do to prevent plagiarism?
And why wasn’t the plagiarism discovered by the opponents or the scientific community?

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APCBEE Procedia 2

Here is an excellent example of scientific insanity: Influence of Fish Feed Containing Corn-Cob Was Fermented By Trichoderma Sp, Aspergillus Sp, Rhizopus Oligosporus To The Rate of Growth of Java Barb, published in Elsevier’s journal APCBEE Procedia 2 (2012). DOI

The only other article I could find by the authors Rita Rostika and Ratu Safitri is a very similar paper presented at International Seminar Biotechnology in 2011.

So, what is bad about this paper? The main problem is the language, which is so bad that any responsible editor should have declined the paper just based on the poor English. But the editor apparently didn’t. The reviewers (if there were any) apparently didn’t recommend that the paper should be rejected either. I will just point to the paragraph “Research design”, which in its entirety reads:

Research Design applied use Completely Randomized Design, 6 treatments and 3 times replication, and the treatment are : Difference between treatment for every test parameter there seen through F test at trust level 95%. Continuation test there used if F test gives real different result by using doubled distance test Duncan.
The conclusion is examplary short, but I’m not sure I understand it anyway.

Fish feed containing corncob fermented about 5 %, gave the highest growth rate of java barb which are 2.01 %.

The acknowledgement makes me a bit worried. Does it imply that only one of the authors wrote the article?

I would like to thanks to Professor Soeharsono (RIP) and Dr.Sutandar Zainal (RIP) as my promotors

ScienceInsanity thinks this kind of science should not be promoted.

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