Part 1 dealt with the Rock of Love; part 2 examined anything with "real" in the title. Part 3 lists a few of the frauds, fakers and other cheaters in the realm of science.
Archaeology - Charles Dawson, Reiner Protsch von Zieten, Shinichi Fujimura
In 1912 England, Charles Dawson had made a stunning discovery: the link between humans and primates. The so-called Piltdown man, named Eoanthropus dawsoni, was dug up by the amateur archaeologist, and had a human-sized brain compartment and ape-sized jaw. Dawson unearthed a LOT of other spectacular finds, including a previously unknown species of mammal (Plagiaulax dawsoni), three new species of dinosaur, and a new form of fossil plant, Salaginella dawsoni.
Just 41 years later, scientists concluded it was a forgery. The human skull was just 6000 years old. And the jawbone? Orangutan. All of the fossils found at the landmark Piltdown site had been planted.
No wonder Dawson didn't find a link - the real missing link between Neandertals and modern humans was hiding in a peat bog near Hamburg - or so said Reiner Protsch von Zieten, a German professor. Von Zieten was acclaimed for such finds as the 36,000 year old Hahnhöfersand Man, the 21,300 year old Binshof-Speyer woman, a 50 million-year-old "half-ape" called Adapis that had been found in Switzerland, and the 27,400 year old Paderborn-Sande man. His work work "appeared to prove that anatomically modern humans and Neanderthals had co-existed, and perhaps even had children together," according to the 2005 Guardian article. Oops - apparently von Zieten literally had no idea how to work the carbon dating machine. The heralded findings? H-Man: died 7,500 years ago; B-S woman (ha): died in 1300 BCE; Adapis: actually dug up in France (not sure about dates); P-S man: died in 1750.
It's not bad enough he falsifed data and rewrote the history of anthropology. He also faked his own history - not of noble blood at all, but the son of a Nazi MP. He is tied to the shredding of documents detailing "gruesome" Nazi scientific experiments and the disappearance of heads from some of the 12,000 skeletons at the university.
Another archaeologist, Japan's Shinichi Fujimura, can at least be excused for planting his "finds" - the devil made him do it. Or so he said when he was caught in 2000. His nickname, "God's hands," came from his uncanny ability to find prehistoric artifacts. Too bad he was caught on camera digging holes and burying objects.
Physics - Stanley Pons and Martin Fleischmann, Mileva Maric, Jan Hendrik Schön
Chemists Stanley Pons and Martin Fleischmann stunned the world when they claimed in 1989 to have successfully created cold fusion (at room temperature). But scientists, excited to replicate the experiment and contribute to the new revolution in energy production, couldn't do it. The two were called a lot of names, including fraudulent, sloppy, and unethical. They were also exonerated by some (even the NY Times), instead placing the blame on the University of Utah and the media. The jury is still out on these guys.
Students of the history of science, physicists, and conspiracy theorists probably recognize Mileva Maric's name: Serbian mathematician, physics scholar, and, oh yes, first wife of Einstein. Unlike the other members of this article, people contend that she was the victim of scientific fraud. By whom? None other than Einstein. A controversial theory posits that Maric contributed to the Annus Mirabilis papers, including theories on Brownian motion and the theory of relativity. These papers changed views on space, time and matter, so you'd think she'd want her name on the byline. The current consensus seems to be that she was an assistant and sounding board, but who really knows?
Jan Hendrik Schön did the unthinkable in 2000 - he made molecules that don't ordinarily conduct electricity into semiconductors. He and his colleagues had "conducted electricity where it had never gone before." He went into publishing mode and a mere five years after grad school was a contender for the Nobel. But a group from Bell Labs, where he worked, placed a call to a Princeton physics professor and hinted that things weren't as they seemed. Two years later, Schön had denied wrongdoing, junior professors were nervous that their tenure bids tied to trying to replicate the experiment were in jeopardy, and the U.S. Department of Energy had spend millions in funding for further research.
Biology and Medicine - Friedhelm Herrmann and Marion Brach, Watson and Crick and Wilkins, Hwang Woo-Suk, Kazunari Taira
Hindsight is 20/20. People suspect Friedhelm Herrmann and Marion Brach, former collaborators and lovers, began falsifying data back in 1988. The molecular biologists headed a big research group in Berlin (after working in the U.S.) and co-authored dozens of papers. One in particular showed Brach's work on tumor necrosis factor affecting cancer cells.
After the two broke up and went their separate ways, students came forward saying they had been threatened by the pair to keep quiet about fraudulent data. Almost 100 papers were found to have falsified or made-up data. Naturally they each blamed the other; Herrmann sued the dean of Medicine at Ulm for $10 million Deutsche marks, saying he knew nothing of the fake data in the papers he co-authored. Brach said Herrmann had pressed her to cheat. In 2002, two years after a task force had published its findings on the scandal, 14 of 20 journals that responded to an inquiry hadn't retracted any of the fradulent papers.
Watson and Crick and Maurice Wilkins received the Nobel for their work on nucleic acid (and are more famously known for the DNA double helix), but the honor was only partly theirs. Allegedly Wilkins didn't like his King's College colleague Rosalind Franklin, who was creating the world's best X-ray diffraction pictures of DNA. Watson said Wilkins showed him an unpublished picture of Franklin's - and the rest is history.
Hwang Woo-Suk is a big dog in the fraud world - the Korean was world-famous in 2004 and 2005 for creating human embryonic stem cells via cloning. His success meant that patients could receive custom-made treatment without immune reactions. His team was also the first to successfully clone a dog (Snuppy the puppy). But the glory didn't last for long. In late 2005 concerns started to surface about his data. On May 12, 2006, Hwang was indicted on embezzlement and and bioethics law violations linked to faked stem cell research. He denies wrongdoing, of course. (But the cloned dog was actually real.)
In 2003 Kazunari Taira, who had used a lot of public money to research RNA interference in anticancer drugs, published a paper saying he had succeeded in having E. coil bacteria produce the human enzyme Dicer. But no one else could reproduce the experiments, so complaints started flooding the Japan RNA Society. They asked Tokyo University to look into the matter, but announced 10 months later it could not make a case against the researcher because there wasn't enough evidence. Literally - no data had been left behind.
There are many more cases, of course. These are just a few of the people that committed fraud (and were caught).
- Jan Hendrik Schön: World Class Physics Fraud Gets Last Laugh- A Whole Book About Himself
- Blogger writes journal article about blogs about journal articles.
- It's Sexist To Call Rosalind Franklin A Victim Because Other Scientists Saw What She Didn't
- Wilkins Ice Shelf Destabilized
- Air Your Tunes With The New Zeppelin Air