I am having trouble keeping up with all the news that I would like to talk about in this blog! Stay with me, I am doing my best!
Retraction Watch is running about 2 posts a day since last I wrote.
The Ithenticate website estimates that the cost in the US of investigating a single case of scientific fraud is about $500,000. Well, I think that that is a gross under estimate and my case (that I lost — go to my website to learn more: www.helenezhill.com) is a case in point. My legal fees and expenses came to about $200,000. I had one lawyer who gave me a discount. The university had 2 lawyers whose fees were probably at least twice mine, so, let’s say that it cost the university about $500,000. The grants in question amounted to $2,500,000 and then there was (and still is) my salary (I would have retired long ago, but for my case — 10, 11 years, maybe), let’s put that at another $1,500,000. Then there is the lost time paying the salary for a post-doctoral fellow to produce the questioned data –let’s put that at about $100,000. Then there is the wasted time the Principal Investigator spent supervising the production of the questioned data. Let’s put that at $200,000. And then there is the time that was spent by other investigators to review the papers that contain the questioned data. Let’s put that at another $50,000. That all comes to $5,050,000. Of (yours and my) hard earned tax money.
Sigma Xi, a scientific research society, has just revised and updated its website — very much for the better. And it has (no surprise) a blog. In a recent post, one member asked if fraud, deception and sloppy work more prevalent now than in the past? As of today, there have been 9 responses and I wish I could say that there is a consensus. The 9 savants (and I am one) don’t even agree that bad science is more prevalent than in the past. What I think is that yes, it is more prevalent because the money is tighter, research support is harder to get and that makes it a bit easier to massage the data and make it look better. On the other hand, surveillance has gotten better and fear of getting caught is a pretty good deterrent. The greatest boon to the field is Retraction Watch which has only been around for a couple of years but by now has more than 34,000 followers.
I am always interested in whistle blower stories and there was one in the NY Times on August 19. This was a WB at Massachusetts Mutual Financial Group who saw a glitch in the way the company was disbursing funds to its subscribers. He tried to get the company to shape up but they dug in their heels. He is quoted as saying “People started treating me like a leper…They would see me coming and turn around and walk in the other direction”. What whistle blower does not know what that is like? He did win his case and an award of $400,000. Hooray!
The Newark Star Ledger reported this morning (8/27) that Rehan Zuberi and 12 associates have been accused in a multimillion dollar scheme of paying doctors to send patients to their offices for scans and tests that they did not need. Zuberi is an electrical engineer graduate of the City College of New York. But who are the doctors? Unfortunately, they, too, will go down with the others.